By Julie Watts

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — With California’s primary coming up on Tuesday, many are getting flooded with campaign text messages.

Campaigns send thousands of texts an hour, which has some wondering how they get your number and if this is even legal.

Unsolicited campaign texts are the trend this election year. CNET’s Jason Hiner says Bernie Sanders had great successes reaching young voters via text in 2016 and now the competition is catching on.

Some, like the Discala’s, say they prefer texts to the political calls.

“The calls are so disruptive when my kids are sleeping… we actually had to get rid of our home phone,” Natalie Discala said.

But many are just as annoyed with the texts, which begs the question: are they legal?

READ: California Voting Changes Raise Concerns For ‘Super Tuesday’

“There are rules and regulations around robocalls and political messages in general, but the texting is a grey area,” Hiner said.

While auto-dialed and prerecorded calls to your landline are legal, automated calls and texts to mobile devices are not. But, like door knocking or phone banking, texting is the 2020 campaign volunteer activity, making those thousands of bulk texts they send out each hour totally legal because they’re coming from humans.

So how did they get your number? They may get it from your voter registration form. It’s public information that can be sold, but even if you’re not registered, Hiner said campaigns can buy lists of voters when they sign up for loyalty cards and other forms of communication where they give out their cell phone numbers.

Fortunately, if you’re tired of the texts, campaigns do offer an easy way to opt-out. Usually, you can reply “Stop” and campaigns will remove you from their list. If that doesn’t work, the text may not be from a legitimate campaign, so you should block the number.

Also, never click on any links from unsolicited texts. If you get a donation link, go directly to the candidate’s website instead of clicking the link.

Julie Watts


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