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Social Media Networks Launch Voter Registration Drives

Registering to vote just got a whole lot easier for tens of million social media users in the U.S. At least six major social media apps are launching voter registration drives to meet young voters exactly where they spend much of their time: on their phones.

With just 46 days until Election Day, Facebook and Snapchat have started voter registration efforts; Twitter and Instagram are implementing similar efforts next week. Music streaming service Spotify has an ongoing campaign with programming released every Tuesday leading up to Election Day and Mitú, a content generator for and by Latinos, has launched a challenge that encourages users to convince friends to register.

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"Our country's democracy thrives on participation,” Chris Handman, Snapchat general counsel, said in a statement. “But you can't participate unless you register to vote. We hope this effort amplifies our community's voice come November."

Snapchat, popular among millennials, is working to boost their voter participation. The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that of all age brackets, 18 to 34 year-olds are least enthusiastic about voting than any other age group.

Brandon Naylor, spokesperson for Democracy Works, a group who partnered with Snapchat on the project, said that the process to register for vote can deter young people.

“That’s an issue that technology can fix,” Naylor said, making it “really easy for you to sign up for registration.”

More than two-thirds of millennials - 68 percent - use their smartphones or tablets more than an hour a day, according to a 2015 poll by Global Strategy Group and Public Opinion Strategies. In addition, 65 percent of young people use social media networks as their top source for campaign and election news.

Snapchat’s voter registration campaign shows advertisements featuring one of its five celebrity partners, such as actor and singer Jared Leto and singer Ciara, encouraging people to register. A swipe up on the app redirects users to a landing page where Snapchat users can register.

Actor and singer Jared Leto featured in Snapchat voter registration campaign. Snapchat

Facebook users in the U.S. on Friday found a reminder on their timeline encouraging them to register. A click on the reminder directs users to the third party voter registration site where they can begin the registration process.

Those who voted in the primaries will see a different message, suggesting they double-check their registration status. The four-day campaign will last until Monday, and like Snapchat, the ad can only be seen by those old enough to vote.

“This is the first time that we have done a nationwide voter registration effort,” said Katie Harbath, Facebook director of government and politics. “We’ve used it as a unique opportunity to remind people that they have a voice in the election.”

Twitter and Instagram have similar voter registration push plans that could go into effect as early as next week.