Bombarded with political texts and calls? Here's how they're getting your information

By Jon Chrisos,
October 19, 2020


With about two weeks to go until Election Day, candidates across the country are in the final sprint.

Right now you're probably getting bombarded with texts and calls and finding your social media accounts inundated with personalized political ads.

In the age of social media, personal data is taking center stage in the battle for your vote and political data collection is a booming business.

These targeted messages, designed just for you, have become a powerful tool in the relentless effort to win your vote.

But have you ever wondered how campaigns are getting access to your personal information?

It's incredibly annoying and invasive, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation Kim Alexander said.

She first started looking into voter privacy more than a decade ago.

It's just gotten more and more sophisticated through the years, and to me it's very disturbing there's so much profiling going on about voters without their knowledge or consent, Alexander said.

It starts with your state selling or giving away the information it gathers about you when you register to vote.

In order to vote you obviously need to register, but when you register you're consenting to having your information sold? I-Team reporter Jon Chrisos asked Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.

The public voter file is meant to be used for election work so effectively what you're saying is true, you are consenting. It does upset people and we get that, Dunlap said.

All 50 states allow political parties and candidates to access voter registration records and in some states anyone can get those records.

The information usually includes your name, address, political party, and how often you get out to vote.

Both sides now see personal data as a political game changer, but for Kim Alexander, the practice is out of control.

"I think it's appalling and there ought to be protections around this," Alexander said.

In Alexander's view, however, that's unlikely to happen.

Unfortunately, the people we look to to enact those kinds of reforms are the very politicians who are using that data, she said.

Some states do allow victims of domestic violence or stalking to sign up for confidentiality programs. (Full Story)