Run for Office . . . With an App
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The company in charge of Snapchat is trying to use its app to encourage young politicians.

Run for Office . . . With an App

Have you ever thought about running for political office someday? There are fewer young people who serve as elected officials. As of a year ago:

  • half of all senators were over age 65
  • the average age of a U.S. senator was 63, and
  • the average age of a member of the House of Representatives was 57.

The 2020 presidential race was the first presidential election in history in which both candidates were septuagenarians (people in their seventies). And all of this at a time when the Baby Boom generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) make up just 21 percent of the American population. Some political experts say that older politicians are becoming more vulnerable when challenged by younger candidates.

If the thought of running for political office sounds overwhelming to you, there are tools that can help you learn more about the process. Snap, the company behind Snapchat, has devised a a new app to make it easier for people to begin investigating the political process. Here, Election Central takes a closer look at Snap’s project.

How Did It Start?

In 2020, Snap began working to educate young voters and encourage them to vote. But the company found that when it asked young people about the issues they cared about, not a lot of candidates stood out who really focused on those issues. This disconnect prompted Snap to start meeting with organizations that recruit candidates. Snap wanted to learn how to get more young people involved in that process.

How Does It Work?

First, a potential politician must meet the requirements to run for office in their community. The app can help quickly get them information about the political landscape. Using Snapchat, they can type in “run for office” and provide their zip code to get a list of opportunities to run for office in their area. This “Position Results” section will also tell them who currently holds the office. If they decide to run, then the “My Campaign” section of the app allows potential candidates to create digital campaign stickers, connect with candidate recruitment organizations, and find helpful information like election dates and requirements to file for the elected position. But the key part is connecting with outside organizations that help candidates with their campaigns. Snap wants to provide interested candidates with the organization that fits their needs.

Both political parties have recognized the need to start recruiting younger candidates. Joe Mitchell, a Republican state representative from Iowa who won his first campaign at the age of 21, has co-founded an organization called Run GenZ, which focuses on encouraging more young conservatives to run for political office. A group called Emerge is committed to getting more young, Democratic women elected. Snap is partnering with both organizations, along with others–such as Run for Something and New Politics–that span the political spectrum. The app helps connect young people with the organization that’s right for them.

Building the Bench

About 90 percent of all people in the U.S. between the ages of 13 and 24 use Snapchat, making the app a familiar place to begin recruiting young candidates. But what about the large number of Snapchat users who are too young to vote, yet alone run for office? Snap still makes the Run for Office app available to everyone, for two reasons. First, even the youngest users may know of someone a little bit older who wants (and is able) to run and can share the information with them. And second, the company believes that it’s never too early for the current generation of young world-changers to start thinking about stepping up.

Dig Deeper Use Internet resources to compile a list of at least five organizations that assist candidates with their campaigns for public office. Write a few sentences about each one. If you were going to run for office tomorrow, which one would you want to connect with? Why?
Valerie Cumming

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