If you were spammed this weekend by a local political campaign, you weren’t alone. Polls are now open in local elections around the country, where state legislatures and mayoral races around the US will be decided after months of unrelenting campaigning. But as political candidates fight for every vote, some campaigns have taken to aggressive, last minute tactics — like blasting their constituency districts with spammy text messages. ZDNet has seen reports and tweets of screenshots of text messages from several New York-based candidates in the past few days, pushing local residents to vote for a particular candidate or calling for campaign donations. …For years, state and federal election candidates have used text messages as a way to solicit votes or contributions from their constituents. Use of text messaging first rocketed during the 2008 presidential campaign, and has only escalated in size and scale — no more so than during last year’s election. But the law is clear: it’s illegal for companies to send text messages to individuals who haven’t given prior consent.
Craig Engle, an attorney at Washington DC.-based law firm Arent Fox, said that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act protects consumers from receiving unsolicited political calls and texts to cell phones unless the sender has obtained prior consent.
But there’s a catch: political emails and text messages are considered non-commercial, and are exempt from the law. After all, these campaigns aren’t trying to sell you anything — they just want you to donate or vote for them.