Reality Check: Are political text messages legal?

Photo of a person on a cell phone (KOMO)

As election season ramps up, many are receiving random political text messages from unknown phone numbers.

It's a trend growing in popularity. Now, many people are curious about how their personal cell phone numbers are getting out there.

Just last week, Mike DeRoze says he received a text message that read:

"Hi Ronald . This is Ali with Team J.B.! This November election is so important. We will be supporting J.B. Pritkzer and Julianna Stratton for Governor and Lt. Governor."

Another message reads:

"Hi Karen! This is Lauren with Andy Manar's Campaign! Did you know you can early vote in Montgomery County right now? Early voting is the best way to help our campaign. Can we count on you to early vote for Andy Manar?"

Experts say campaigns and action groups are getting a hold of your phone number for their gain. They say it's cheaper than the flyers you receive in the mail.

According to the Illinois Board of Elections, political groups gaining phone numbers is legal.

"If you’ve included a cellphone number or a phone number as part of your registration process, they might have access to that," said Matt Dietrich, Public Information Officer for the Illinois State Board of Elections. "That is where these text messages would be originating from. That’s set in statute."

Access to your voting records electronically are sealed.

"Anybody from the general public is allowed to come to our Springfield office and access and take notes from it," Dietrich said. "They can't print from it or take pictures on the screens if they access it here."

DeRoze says it's a privacy issue.

"I do think it should be banned," DeRoze said. "I think politicians have to respect peoples rights just like everyone else."

The Board of Elections says you should contact your local clerk to ask about removing your phone number from their records.


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