Oct 29, 2020

Chris Hoofnagle on Election Text Message Banking

From Black Voice News

Are you there, voter? It’s me, Emily

By Steven Rascón

For months, Californians have been bombarded with text messages from multiple political campaigns pleading for money and votes. But many recipients question whether these texts are sent by bots or are even legal. As with so much law surrounding voting issues, the answer isn’t entirely clear...

Text banking is the new equivalent of traditional phone banking. Campaigns create databases using voter registration files and recruit volunteers who hit “send,” again and again, to reach individual voters. Typically, the language of the texts doesn’t change, although senders may add their own names to personalize the communication. 

This avoids the ban on automatic telephone dialing systems and allows campaigns to reach a broader base of voters. “If I used software to create 50 different lists, and I gave those 50 different lists out for hand dialing, those calls are not in an ATDS,” said Chris Hoofnagle, a professor of law and technology at UC Berkeley Law. 


Chris Hoofnagle is an adjunct professor. He holds dual appointments in Information and in the School of Law.

Last updated:

November 17, 2020