The upbeat young people at the center of the California Secretary of State’s home page dovetails with the office’s current push to increase voter registration and Nov. 8 turnout among college students.
But from peanut promotion to international travel on the cheap, the three men and four women in the image exist well beyond California’s election headquarters. They are part of a stock image – one photo vendor site characterizes it as “teenagers young team together cheerful concept” – that shows up in many other web pages.
It’s unknown if the people are California residents, let alone among the state’s more than 18.2 million voters.
“It’s a diverse group of young people, just like California students,” Sam Mahood, a spokesman for Secretary of State Alex Padilla, said of the photo. It “logistically made sense” to use a stock image instead of arranging a photo shoot of college students in the state, he said.
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A lot of other web site designers also like the photo, based on a Google search.
The same image, or variations of it, show up on sites across the internet, in multiple languages. The National Peanut Board featured it for a contest encouraging college students to showcase “the power of peanuts” on social media. It helps advertise a discount ID card for student travelers and classes at the University of New Mexico.
Padilla’s office also isn’t the first to employ the photo to encourage young people to get to the polls. Last March, Buzzfeed included the image in a farcical video encouraging millennials to vote.