Kansas voters should be on “high alert” about third-party text messages giving them incorrect election information, a top state official warned Monday.
The texts are not coming from election officials and often direct recipients to the wrong polling place, the Kansas secretary of state’s office said in a statement.
“Voters should be on high alert for these messages,” said Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab. “The Secretary of State’s office does not use third parties to contact voters or share election information on our behalf. State and local election officials are the trusted sources for election information, and I encourage voters to contact our office or their county election office for assistance.”
The texts started going out in the days before next week’s midterm elections. They “appear to be from an out-of-state organization called Voting Futures,” according to the Kansas secretary of state’s office.
A website for an organization with that name is sparse, and its page with contact information is down. HuffPost reached out to the website’s domain owner, which is listed as Contact Privacy Inc. and registered in Canada, but it has not responded to inquiries about whether it sent the texts.
A Facebook page for the organization is flooded with people complaining about the text messages, which many have posted to their own social media accounts to warn others.
Voting Futures was also the sender listed on similar texts sent out to Oregon voters earlier this month.
“It seems to be a widespread outreach effort by an organization named Voting Futures, but unfortunately, they are using data that isn’t accurate,” Tim Scott, the elections director in Oregon’s Multnomah County, told local news at the time.
The Kansas branch of the American Civil Liberties Union said it received reports that some of the texts purport to be from a group called Future Voices, which does not appear to be the name of any major organization in Kansas or elsewhere.
ACLU Kansas legal director Sharon Brett urged people to call the organization’s election protection hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE, if they receive any of these third-party texts. Doing so “helps us track how widespread this was and where geographically it’s happening,” she wrote on Twitter.
ACLU Kansas said it has also received reports of texts purportedly from the group Black Voters Matter, which told HuffPost the messages with its name were sent in error by a third-party vendor it works with called Movement Labs.
“Movement Labs has acknowledged and taken full responsibility for the error, as BVM did not endorse these text messages,” the group said. “We are deeply sorry for the confusion that these text messages created and have taken steps to correct this situation. We are thankful for the community members and media representatives who brought this to our attention.”