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Snapchat introduces tool to help young people run for office

"If Snapchatters want to make sure that the issues they care most about are represented by leadership, then they need to run," a Snap executive said.
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Trinity Sanders has big plans once she graduates from high school.

First, Sanders, who is from upstate New York, wants to go to college and then law school to become a civil rights lawyer. From there, she wants to run for office to become a U.S. senator.

To help her achieve her political goals, she said, she might look to an unlikely resource: Snapchat.

Snapchat released a tool Tuesday called Run for Office to help young people who have political aspirations learn what steps they'll need to take to run in local elections.

"I know that there's many people that I personally use Snapchat with, so to be able to do it right from our phones, yeah, sign me up," said Sanders, 17.

Run for Office will help eligible Snapchat users, many of whom skew younger, find local races they are eligible for that pertain to their interests, the platform said.

"If Snapchatters want to make sure that the issues they care most about are represented by leadership, then they need to run," Sofia Gross, Snap's head of policy partnerships and social impact, said

The tool will walk them through what they'll need to do to become candidates. Users will also be able to nominate friends who they think would be good fits for particular offices.

Gross said young users are politically active, especially with voting.

"We've seen how passionate they are about the issues they care most about," Gross said. "And so we feel helping them run for office at the local level, where they can understand how to make a difference on the issues they care most about, is a natural next step in their civic journey."

The Run for Office tool will be available as a "mini," a utility that can be used directly without leaving Snapchat. The tool is powered by BallotReady, which curates information from election websites across the country.

When users click on the tool, they'll be asked whether they want to get started or whether they want to nominate a friend.

Next, users will enter their ZIP codes so the app can find races in the their areas. Then they will select issues they are passionate about so the app can narrow down what races would be good fits. Examples include issues like immigration, jobs, the economy, social services, drug policy and more.

After users select their interests, the app will show them available offices that pertain to those interests in their areas and whether those races are at the local, county or state levels. Once users select an office, they will be given a brief description of the role and whether the races were contested in the last election.

From there, the app will show them the requirements to run, including rules like age and location. Once users have made their choices, they will then have the option to team up with organizations who have partnered with Snapchat and run the political gamut.

Some of the groups that partnered with Snapchat include the conservative group Run Gen Z, the Democratic women's group Emerge, the veterans and national leaders group New Politics and the progressive group Run For Something.

"This entire network of partners, which 'Run for Something' is so proud to be one of, it's going to make sure that every person who signs up their Snapchat is part of a movement," said Amanda Litman, the co-founder and co executive director of Run For Something, an organization that recruits and supports first-time progressive candidates running for local office.

Then it's off to the races. Users will be able to revisit the information about their races in the Run for Office mini at any time.

"We really view this as just the start of a much longer-term conversation about the next generation of American leadership," Gross said. "By starting at the local level, we know that this generation is so passionate about the issues they care about, and so we want to help them understand the different ways they can make a difference in their community based on those issues."

It isn't Snapchat's first venture into helping young people educate themselves about politics.

Last year, Snapchat helped more than 1 million users register to vote, representatives said in October. More than half were first-time voters, and more than 80 percent were younger than 30.

Young people like Sanders say that they're excited about the tool and that their generation is ready to make a difference in politics.

"I dare to say that Generation Z is the most involved politically and 100 percent ready generation to create change," she said. "I think we are to the point where we are ready to run. Once we become the age, we'll be the first ones in office."