At YouMail, we’ve been tracking calling campaigns related to the elections as many of our users have reported them as spam or scams. Earlier during Election Week we reported on seeing a huge surge of bulk calls identifying themselves as the Democratic National Committee without much of an uptick on calls identifying as their Republican counterparts.
The calls below show a massive uptick in “blue” calls (those identifying as Democrat in origin) versus “red” calls (those identifying as Republican in origin).
These calls went out in the tens to hundreds of thousands in swing states this week – some using a robocaller and others using a live person operating off a script so the calls were effectively all identical for the purposes of their recipients in terms of how they would be received and potentially classified as spam:
Hey it’s Barack Obama on behalf of the Democratic National Committee. Our chance to choose a better future for our country is here. It’s election day and records show you may not voted yet. So I’m asking you to go to I will vote.com to find your polling place and it’s ours mascot and vote. This election will determine America’s future.Listen and learn more here.
Hi it’s Stacey Abrams calling on behalf of the Democratic National Committee. Today is election day and our records show you have not voted yet. This is your last chance to make your voice heard in this historic election. Go to I will vote.com to look up your polling place and it’s hours or call 833-336-8683. This election will determine America’s future. I’m counting on you. Paid for by the Democratic National Committee 202-953-5367. Not authorized by any candidate or candidates committee.Listen and learn more here.
Hi .. I’m a volunteer with Supermajority and we’re just reaching out about the general election coming up on Tuesday and I’m calling because our records show that you might not have voted yet and we wanna make sure you have all the information you need to be able to do so your vote can make a huge difference in the selection in Michigan.
One thing that stuck out to us in this particular election was how many of these increased calls referenced awareness of “records that show you might not have voted.”
Then it dawned on us, with all the news going on in Elections this week and the special circumstances in this year’s pandemic mail-in ballot fueled election that many of the states in question had launched websites and APIs for anyone, not just the voter to check on the status of a mail-in vote:
For these states (Pennsylvania and Michigan), anyone can look up the exact status of your mail-in ballot and match it up against your voter registration and party affiliation. The fields needed (birth month, zip code or county) are ones easily determined with a search or access to social media or in some cases just guessing a few times. Social media data can obviously take this a lot further and with simple models could take your party affiliation and behavior on social media to determine your propensity to vote in a way that matches your party affiliation.
The calls that YouMail identified surging in the days winding down to the election deadline indicate that just one party was savvy enough to take advantage of the new capabilities in monitoring the return rate of their likely voters and deploy it nearly exclusively to critical swing states where the secretary of state departments made the data available via the web or in some cases APIs for anyone to access.
For the first time ever, it was technically possible to monitor voters and ensure they have returned their votes in the weeks winding down to Election Day. Further, it was possible to enable automated or semi-automated follow-up on the subset of voters who hadn’t taken action yet every day in the extended voting window of early voting.
Did this new breaking ground game of matching voter data, ballot tracking and automated follow-up mean the difference in the 2020 election?
And while you are staying tuned consider if you are truly protected from the worst spam and scam calls that ring your phone. If unwanted calls are still ringing your device more than you’d like, consider YouMail – we’re the only company answering billions of unwanted calls and identifying them within the minute and then quickly protecting all our users against them.