Weather Forecast


Here’s how all those politicians keep texting you

ST. PAUL - If domination of TV and radio time and clogging up your mailbox wasn’t enough, now voters get to deal with another type of politicking — via text message.

If you’re a registered voter you’ve probably received one of these messages this election season. A campaign worker asking to chat about the election and who you’ll support.

So how do politicians and advocacy groups get your cell phone number?

You probably inadvertently gave it to them when you registered to vote. A phone number is not required to register, but there is a place on the form to provide one.

According to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office, voter information, such as: name, address, birth year, voting history (when you voted, not whom you voted for) and, if you provided one, phone number are publicly available.

The data must be requested by a Minnesota registered voter and can only be used for three purposes: political activities, elections or law enforcement.

A voter’s exact date of birth, email address and any identifying numbers like from a driver’s license or social security card are kept private. Only authorized government agencies and elections officials can access this information.

Voters who fear for their safety because their personal information is publicly available can ask the Secretary of State’s office to keep their all their data private by calling 1-877-600-8683.

Of course, there’s plenty of other ways to get your cell phone number and other personal information. You may have given it when you signed a petition or enrolled a child into a particular program, for example.

Data is big business, both for political campaigns, and pretty much anything else.