Florida political campaigns targeting voters with unsolicited text messages

Posted at 11:02 PM, Oct 22, 2018

TAMPA, Fla. — Florida political campaigns are using a new, intrusive tactic to sway your vote ahead of November's Election Day. 

Several ABC Action News viewers are expressing frustration after receiving text messages from unknown numbers backing a cause or candidate. 

"My first thought was, 'oh for crying out loud,'" said Lillie Deans. "My second thought was annoyance and sort of angry." 

The longtime Tampa voter received four political text messages since Friday. One read, "Democrats are already racking up votes. President Trump needs you to submit your absentee ballot."

"How did they get my number and how did they know I use an absentee ballot," asked Deans. 

Federal law bans robo-messages but nothing prevents campaigns from texting individual numbers. 

Many are wondering how campaigns track down personal cell numbers. Your cell phone may have been listed on your voter registration, which is public record. 

ABC Action News political analyst Dr. Susan MacManus says campaigns are using text messages to target young, independent voters.  

"People see an edge, they see a new form of communication, they see who is communicating via cell phone so it's only natural that shrewd campaigners say hey let's go for it until they say we can't," said MacManus.  

MacManus warns laws are often too slow to catch up with technology. For now, the best way to opt out of these prying political messages is to reply, "STOP." 

"It just seems like the tone of any of the campaigns anymore is intrusive," said Deans.