Political texts, how groups get your information

Published: Nov. 1, 2020 at 8:48 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Voters are sounding off about constant calls and messages for the upcoming election. Many of them call it spam.

It’s certainly not a new tactic. Political campaigns begin ramping up at the start of election season, sending the unsolicited messages to inform voters, donors or activists of candidates' platforms, etc. Many times the communication is coming from campaign workers or volunteers and being sent to a large list of phone numbers pulled from publicly available voter files.

And that information, your information, is for sale.

Melvyn Houser, Pottawattamie Election Commissioner and County Auditor explained a voter’s phone number and address can be purchased for four reasons. Those include:

1. To ask for your vote

2. Genuine political purpose

3. Political research.

4. Official purpose by elected officials

In Nebraska, the only reason listed is “political activities.” It’s vague and offers no additional context about what qualifies.

Campaigns and other groups can’t get information like social security numbers or driver’s licenses, but they can request a list of all registered Democrats or Republicans in a specific precinct or county.

State Secretary Offices monitor this use to ensure and regulate the lists are not being misused.

There is one option, ACP or the Address Protection Program, but it’s not available to everyone.

In order to have an address hidden, one must be a victim of stalking, domestic violence or sexual assault.

For a breakdown of the rules for accessing voter information by state, click here to visit the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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