Why am I getting political texts about the upcoming midterm elections?

Student groups send record number of messages
Why am I getting political texts about the upcoming midterm elections?

With less than two weeks until election day, politicians are in full campaign mode, using rallies, campaign ads, and robocalls to spread their messages. But this year, they’re also reaching right into your pocket: sending texts directly to voters.

Political campaigns and parties say they’re sending more texts this year than in past elections. Politicians find texting an efficient way to reach young people, who are addicted to their phones, or people living in rural areas who could be hard to reach in person.

The practice was first used on a large scale during the 2008 election and has only escalated since. While it’s illegal for companies to send texts to people who haven’t given consent, there’s a catch: political emails and texts are considered non-commercial, so they’re exempt from the law.

So far, NextGen America has sent a record 1.5 million texts ahead of the 2018 midterm election. NextGen has staff on 26 campuses across the state of Wisconsin and is in 11 states nationwide.

That group openly endorses liberal candidates, but they say using technology to reach, remind, and inform young voters in something both parties should be doing.

“So many people are getting engaged in politics for the first time, so I can really sense that enthusiasm already,” said Joe Waldman, regional director for NextGen Wisconsin. “Young people, including people who just turned 18, are fired up and inspired and ready to make their voices heard.”

“People have been marching in the streets all year, and our hope is that students will be marching to their polling places in the same numbers.”

The UW chapter of Wisconsin Young Republicans agreed. In a statement to News 3, they said, “The last few elections have seen revolutionary new approaches through technology use to help reach and drive voters to the polls, and no generation is more engaged digitally than that of Millennials.”

“A major tool in this outreach has been using text messaging or other instant messaging services such as Facebook messenger. While folks are still warming to the idea of ‘cold texting,’ using instant messaging has been an invaluable method to communicate with our members statewide, their friends and known contacts, and other young adults not otherwise reached about events and reminders to vote,” the group added.

Polling released Sunday by the Washington Post shows 67-percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 39 said they were “absolutely certain to vote” this year: 25-percent above 2014 levels.

If you’re getting political texts sent to you from any party, candidate, or group, and you don’t want them, there’s usually an option to text “stop” back to that same number and you’ll be automatically unsubscribed.

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