Campaigns get aggressive with text messages

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With early voting underway, political ads are popping up on television, billboards, social media and phones.

Campaigns are now ensuring you get their message immediately by delivering text messages to your cellphone.

Past coverage

“It's definitely an invasion of privacy,” voter Spencer Guttenberg said.

Some messages are personalized and from a specific candidate's campaign, while others are from a political organization encouraging people to vote.

“I don't think it works. I think it's a bad tactic,” voter Bryson Goins said. “It's kind of annoying, actually."

Goins said he has received several.

“I would read them and then instantly just delete them,” Goins said.

Action 9 investigated the issue in 2016 and learned that it’s legal if a real person sends the texts. It’s illegal if a computer robotexts the message.

Channel 9 anchor Liz Foster learned that campaign volunteers often use software that lets them text thousands of people an hour, therefore, it’s legal because a person still hits send.

Eric Heberlig, a political science professor at UNC Charlotte, told Channel 9 that it doesn't surprise him that campaigns are texting people, but it does surprise him that they're reaching out to people who haven't contacted the campaign.

“You're not going to vote for them merely because you got a text, but it's their opening of the door to get you to find out more information about their candidate,” Heberlig said.

Any possible law to ban campaigns from texting you would be decided by the candidates using that method.

Because of that, Heberlig said to not expect tight restrictions unless the Federal Communication Commission gets involved.

There is a petition to have the FCC clarify the rules about political robocalls and texts.

The FCC said it plans to get public comment and then review all of the information before making a ruling.

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