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Technology / Politics

FEC Votes to Allow Donations by Text Message

(AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

photo of Alexandra  Jaffe
June 11, 2012

The Federal Election Commission voted unanimously on Monday to allow federal political contributions via text message, a move that could amplify the flow of small donations to both the Obama and Romney campaigns.

Although the Obama campaign has solicited donations via text message before, that effort required donors to have already saved their payment information with the campaign and registered for a "quick donate" option. Now, supporters can simply text the amount they want to donate to the campaign's short code, and the amount will be charged to their phone bill. A messaging aggregator will keep track of donations to prevent any single phone number from contributing more than $50 per month to each candidate or committee, the highest amount possible for anonymous donors under election rules.

Critics of the proposal have expressed concerns, however, that one person could use multiple pay-as-you go phones to skirt that rule.

Both the Obama and Romney campaigns and members of Congress supported it, with proponents saying it will help fuel grassroots efforts to balance the outsize influence of wealthy donors contributing to super PACs. Political committees would also be eligible to receive texted donations.

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