Georgians receiving more texts, calls from campaigns and organizations during 2020 election season

Updated: Dec. 16, 2020 at 12:18 AM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Campaigns and outside organizations are working to get their message out to Georgia voters, encouraging them to head to the polls.

They’re doing this through texts, voicemails, and materials in the mail.

Jacob Holt, a political science professor at Columbus State University, says research indicates that getting a text or phone call reminding a person to vote will increase the likelihood of them voting. He also says campaigns are more likely to target voters who don’t always vote in elections or are on the fence.

Holt says Georgians are seeing more texts and phone calls this election season because of the competitive races in the Peach State.

“When you have competitive races, more resources are thrown into those races and especially in more modern times. You don’t have to live here in Georgia to make contacts. You can do that anywhere in the United States,” Holt explained.

Campaigns and political parties can buy the Georgia voter list online. The secretary of state’s office says this includes the voter’s name, home address, mailing address if it is different, race, gender, registration date and last voting date for active and inactive voters. Campaigns are able to match this information with information from other sources to get phone numbers.

“You actually have to buy several bits of information, but you can from those quickly put them together,” Holt said.

Outside groups can get phone numbers several different ways. Holt says they sometimes buy them from commercial entities who collect your phone number from various things like magazine subscriptions.

“A lot of these outside groups will buy it because these groups are very smart and they understand from previous research that there are certain things about you that predict your political beliefs. So, what magazine you subscribe to, what car you own, lots of little things like this will predict that you’re more likely to be a Democrat or more likely to be Republican,” Holt explained.

Holt says there’s no way to opt out of these because the Do Not Call Registry has an exemption for campaigns and charities. They’re considered a public service.

Voters can be contacted by both political parties or campaigns and outside organizations. Under federal law, it is illegal for campaigns to coordinate with outside groups.

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