Kansans bombarded with flyers, text messages ahead of primary election

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Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 9:51 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Leading up to Tuesday’s primary election, Eyewitness News has heard from many across Kansas, reporting that they are being bombarded with flyers and text messages from candidates in races that will be narrowed down in the primary.

It is important to note that the way they most campaigns are getting your contact information is legal.

When you register to vote, you have to submit your name and address. Most commonly, candidates and their campaigns request access to that information to contact you.

According to local political parties, you may be seeing more flyers and text messages as more candidates and people representing their campaigns try to social distance and reduce traditional door-to-door campaigning.

“We tell candidates the best way to reach voters is by going door to door. Obviously that is not possible in a lot of ways this year,” Sedgwick County GOP Chair Dalton Glasscock said. “We want to be respectful of everybody. We don’t know somebody’s circumstances when we go to their door, so I want to be respectful and figure out other ways to reach out to (voters) that are not typical to what you normally see during elections.”

Esau Freeman with the Sedgwick County Democratic Party also said the objective with the less direct communication is to be safe for voters and the candidates.

“We think that the best practice is to text, make phone calls, and put door hangers on people’s doors,” Freeman said. “But maybe traditional face-to-face and speaking to crowds isn’t going to work as well this year.”

A spokesperson for the Kansas Secretary of State, Katie Koupal said people can sign an affidavit when requesting information. That’s done through the Kansas Open Records Act. When someone does this, they sign that they will not sell the information they’re gathering.

There were 20 affidavits signed for the 2020 primary election.

It is also important to note that you can put your phone number on your voter registration.

“Although not required, voters are strongly encouraged to include a phone number to their voter registration form because that is how the local election office will contact them if there is an issue with their registration, advance ballot, etc,” said Koupal.

On a side note, phone numbers and emails can also be purchased from third-party vendors, including when you subscribe to email lists or websites.

Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman explained that candidates can purchase the voter registration rolls from the election office. That data includes a voter’s name, phone numbers, email address, party affiliation and the record of elections in which you cast a ballot. It does not include who you voted for in those elections.

“There are many third-party companies that compile data and candidates and political parties can pay to access that data,” Lehman said. “It is much more inclusive than our voter files.”

She added, “It is a very aggressive industry and sadly, just removing your data from voter files, will not make it stop. Removing your phone or email from our files will just make it harder for us to reach out to you if we have an issue with a voter registration, advance application or returned ballot.”

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