Voters in at least three states have received texts with erroneous information ahead of the midterm elections next week. Officials in Kansas, New Jersey, and Oregon urge voters in those states to seek information from official channels like state government voting portals when it comes to finding their polling places. As HuffPost reports, some voters in Kansas and Oregon received texts linking them with addresses they’ve never resided at or directing them to vote at the wrong polling place. Whoever is behind those texts claim they represent Voting Futures, a group that offers little on its website and whose Facebook page has been flooded with bad reviews due to the texts.
Identical texts claiming to be sent by legitimate groups like Voto Latino and Black Voters Matter can be traced back to the company Movement Labs, which both organizations used for voting-related text banking. Movement Labs claimed the texts sent on behalf of Voto Latino and Black Voters Matter were sent in error. But little information has come out about Voting Futures and whether the group also contracted with Movement Labs.
Tweets from Movement Labs show that voters in Illinois and North Carolina were also sent erroneous messages. Some of those messages weren’t endorsed by the organizations that did business with Movement Labs. Other messages simply included information that was outdated, based off of the phone records obtained by Movement Labs.
Regardless of intent, voter disinformation has been a major issue once again this election season, especially when it comes to social media platforms. Propaganda Research Lab Senior Research Fellow Inga Kristina Trauthig sees texting and private messages as just the latest battleground in the fight against such disinformation. In a recent op-ed for The Hill, Trauthig writes that “all of us should expect disinformation to heighten around elections.”
She called for more mechanisms to be developed by messaging platforms and social media companies that address disinformation, and said that policymakers can also do more to hold those companies accountable. Until then, it’s best to go through official channels when looking for polling place or voter registration information, and seeking information from reputable sources, such as organizations that offer voting guides ahead of elections.
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