Even a presidential candidate’s most devoted supporters could be forgiven for trying to tune out the torrent of campaign emails, Twitter messages, Facebook posts, Instagrams and Snapchats that steadily flood voters’ inboxes and social-media feeds in this digitized, pixelated, endlessly streaming election cycle. But a text message is different. A text message — despite its no-frills, retro essence — is something personal. Something invasive. Something almost guaranteed to be read. So last month, when Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont staged what his aides called the most important night of his three-month-old campaign for the Democratic nomination — cramming 100,000 of his followers into house parties from coast to coast, to whip them into foot soldiers — he did not solicit email addresses or corral the attendees into a special Facebook group. Instead, his digital organizing director, Claire Sandberg, asked each participant to send a quick text establishing contact with the campaign.
For the next round of elections, voters might be able to cast their ballots with a cell phone in hand. Current state law prohibits voters from having their cell phones within 100 feet of the voting area, but the State House of Representatives on Monday heard and initially passed a bill that would allow voters to use their cell phones in polling stations, with certain limitations. The bill, authored by Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), permits voters to “access information that was downloaded, recorded or created on the phone” before the voter enters his or her polling place.
In an election increasingly defined by big money, the Federal Election Commission’s recent move to permit campaign contributions via text message strikes many as the perfect antidote. “I really do think this is a potential game changer for the campaign finance system,” said Brett Kappel, an election lawyer with Arent Fox, who represented a pair of consulting firms that asked the FEC to clear donations via text. “I think it can bring the individual small donor back into the system, and they can play a significant role.” Proponents of fundraising via mobile text point to a long list of benefits. Texting can tap vast numbers of small donors and raise large sums in a short amount of time, note a diverse array of political players who petitioned the FEC to approve the practice. They point to the tens of millions of dollars raised via mobile device in the wake of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. About 4.3 million Americans donated $43 million to Haiti earthquake relief via text message, according to a January report by the Pew Internet Project.
The Federal Election Commission on Monday night unanimously voted to allow Americans to make political donations via text message, making Androids, iPhones and Blackberries the newest weapon in the battle to raise unprecedented amounts of money. Both parties, as well as campaign finance reform advocates, say the move will allow Americans of modest means to play a greater role in a democratic process dominated this election cycle by billionaires and multi-millionaires and political organizations such as super PACs that may raise and spend money without restriction. The decision will take effect immediately, although it may be days or weeks before the system is fully functional. Individual phone numbers will be capped at $50 worth of donations per billing cycle per political candidate or committee.
National: Campaign donations by text message: An FEC ruling on legality could come soon | The Washington Post
The Federal Election Commission on Thursday held a hearing on whether donations through text message should be legal. The commissioners held off on making a ruling during Thursday’s meeting, but a decision could come when the panel meets again next month. Both the Obama and Romney campaigns support legalizing text-message donations and on Thursday submitted statements in favor.