Campaigns using robotexts to get their message out

Expert says best way to cut down on robo messages is to vote early

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With one week to go before Election Day, Florida campaigns are ramping up the push for votes, which means more political ads on TV and social media.

And also more dreaded robocalls.

The calls often come during dinner or at some other inconvenient time, but political campaigns are also turning to another form of robo communication: text messages.

Ethan Caldarelli has gotten a couple in the last few days, including one from Ron DeSantis pointing out that early voting had begun and his vote hadn't been recorded yet.

"If they start spamming me up, I'll get annoyed,” Caldarelli said.

Michael Binder, an associate professor of political science at the University of North Florida, said the texts are legal because they're aren't soliciting.

“They're not selling you anything. They're just reminding you to vote or reminding you about a particular issue. As of now, it's legal,” Binder said.

Binder said texts offer campaigns a quick way to get a message out for little cost. 

But some people told News4Jax that they've gotten a lot more of the texts than they want. 

The Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office said some voters frustrated by the texts have contacted the office with questions, most often: “How did they get my information?” 

The answer is simple: Voter information is public record. 

But, typically, the Supervisor of Elections Office does not have voters' phone numbers and emails. 

Binder said he believes one of the key factors in whether someone gets robotexts is how apt they are to release their phone number. Whether you're registering to vote or donating to political parties, the more information you put out there, the easier it is to contact you, Binder explained.

Binder said if you're registered to a political party, you're more likely to get robocalls and texts, but if you're non-party affiliated, you're less likely to get them.

He also said one way to cut down on your chances of seeing so many robotexts is to vote early. Once you've voted, the reminder texts to cast your ballot should stop.

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