Warning: Third-party voter outreach could lead to confusion, incomplete voter registration

KSN Investigates

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — They’re encouraging you to vote, but some are questioning how some third-party groups got your information, and why they’re contacting you. The Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab is warning you that it could lead to some confusion when it comes to your voter registration.

We get text messages every day. Whether it’s between family and friends, or it’s a reminder for you to pay a bill, text messages are inevitable. But sometimes, you get an unsolicited message.

Elizabeth Stillwell of Wichita got an unsolicited text message from a third party Wednesday morning, Sept. 2.

“Well, this can’t be right,” she said. “It’s either a snafu with sending out a text message, or it’s a scam.”

The text message says, “Hi there! This is Olivia from Stop 45 PAC. Michigan Public Records show that you didn’t vote in a few recent elections. Who you vote for is private but whether you vote is public information. Great news though! Voting is now convenient, you can take 2 minutes to fill in this online form so you can vote from home! Millions have already filled this out. This is the biggest election of our lifetime, that’s why millions are signing up early. Reply Stop to quit. Sign up today>>> [link to website]”

“I don’t know anybody in Michigan, never been to Michigan,” Stillwell said.

She said she has only lived and voted in Kansas and Arizona.

“How did they even get my number? It’s just interesting.”

So we called the number that sent the text and we got this recorded message, “Thanks for the call. Configuring your number’s URL to change this message.”

The group apparently behind the original text message is called “Stop 45,” which is a political action committee (PAC). The number 45 refers to the 45th President of the U.S. – President Donald Trump. The PACs website says “…we’re going to vote him out of the White House.”

We wanted to get some answers for Stillwell, so we reached out to the PAC by email, Twitter and Facebook. The group did not answer any of our messages.

“It is concerning,” Stillwell said. “I got this message, who else got it?”

Apparently she wasn’t the only one. KSN found another Facebook user who said he got an “unsolicited text” from the group.

KSN also reached out to the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office. A spokeswoman said voter outreach from third parties is not only common during an election year, but it’s on the rise this year.

However, Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab has a warning for you to avoid misinformation.

“Although the intent is sincere, the information collected by third parties does not always meet the requirements laid out in state law, potentially resulting in an incomplete voter registration or mail ballot application.”

In Kansas, people who are registering to vote must provide their driver’s license or photo identification number or a copy of a government issued ID with the voter registration form. Signatures are also required.

Schwab said if you want to register to vote or even update your voting information, the best way to do that is to contact your local election office or the Kansas Secretary of State’s website.

Schwab said to never give out your sensitive information to these third parties and he stressed there’s no guarantee these third parties will properly turn in your voter registration.

Deadlines for the November election

  • Oct. 13 – Deadline to register to vote
  • Oct. 14 – Advance voting by mail and in-person can begin
  • Oct. 27 – Deadline to apply for advance by mail ballots
  • Nov. 2 – Early in-person voting ends at noon
  • Nov. 3 – General Election, also – mailed-in ballots must be postmarked on or before this day
  • Nov. 6 – Deadline for mailed-in ballots to arrive at election office

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