People lined up for early voting outside the Gwinnett County Voter Registrations and Elections Office in Lawrenceville on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Campaigns target Georgia’s absentee voters

Soon after requesting absentee ballots, Georgia voters say, they’re receiving phone calls and text messages from candidates asking for their votes.

Soliciting votes from people who have requested absentee ballots is the latest effort to reach voters, going beyond the usual TV ads and mailers.

The names and addresses of voters who have applied for absentee ballots are public information in Georgia, available online for use by political campaigns, news media and anyone else interested. Absentee voter information is posted on the Georgia secretary of state’s website.

Early voting is underway in advance of the Nov. 6 election for Georgia governor between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

Some voters said they were concerned by the phone solicitations.

“I was taken aback by someone knowing I requested an absentee ballot , finding my cell phone, and texting campaign pushes to me within 20 days of me requesting a ballot,” wrote Tom Rhone of Cumming in an email about a text message he received from Kemp’s campaign.

Campaigns are allowed to use public information, but Georgia law prohibits government officials from using their public positions to give anything of value to a political campaign.

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