Elections: How SMS and 10DLC can increase voter engagement and combat misinformation

Senior Content Marketing Specialist

Dave Hitchins

Senior Content Marketing Specialist

In the run up to an election the focus for political parties, activist organizations, and polling agencies is to reach as many people as possible with clear and concise information. This includes all sectors of the voting population both in cities and rural areas where there may be lower levels of digital adoption.  This makes SMS the ideal channel, and 10DLC the recommended option for reliably reaching all potential voters. 

10DLC (10-digit long code) is a long number for business messaging in the US using SMS and MMS. It requires a special registration process, and all campaigns must be compliant with US messaging guidelines.

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In the US, where voter participation rates are highest amongst older, wealthier, and more highly educated citizens, there are a number of non-profit organizations that actively encourage voter registration in politically under-represented communities. Field experiments have shown that turnout rates increase by an average of 9.3% for people that received messages encouraging mobilization, with text message being the most effective channel.     

A similar result was obtained by researchers in the UK who conducted a study in 2021/2022 and found that simple text message reminders increased voter registration by 8%

In close-run elections, as the 2024 US presidential race promises to be, an increase of 8-9% in turnout could have a significant impact on results. 

So why is text messaging such a successful tool at election time, and how can it be used both effectively and ethically?    

Why use SMS and 10DLC for election messaging?

Reach more people: SMS can be used to reach voters anywhere that has cell signal. As most people always have their phones on them, SMS can be used to reach voters at any time, even in the polling queue. With open rates over 90%, SMS increases the chances that important messages will be seen.  

Personalized communication at scale: Texts messages can be easily adapted for specific groups of voters or entire regions. Messages can also be sent from local numbers that increase the sense of trust and familiarity.  

Connect directly with voters: Using text messaging as a communication channel enables organizations to bypass traditional media, which may have their own political agenda and low levels of trust amongst some groups of voters. 

Cost-effectiveness: Reach more people with the same budget due to the relatively affordable cost of sending text messages when compared with print and paid media. 

Two-way communication: SMS and 10DLC enable two-way communication and the potential for a more conversational style of interaction. This makes it well suited to research, polling, and volunteer recruitment at scale. 

Increased agility: Due to the nature of SMS and the control that organizations have when using 10DLC, messaging can be quickly adapted as things change during the election cycle. There will always be last-minute policy updates, skeletons falling out of candidates’ closets, or reruns in closely contested races. SMS can be used to quickly update messaging in all these cases.  

Easy integrations: Text message campaigns can easily slot into or complement broader digital strategies and be used in conjunction with social media and messaging apps to maximize reach in demographics where those channels are not as popular.     

Election campaign use cases for SMS

Bear in mind that when sending SMS messages as part of an election campaign you are mostly preaching to the converted. People must have opted in to receive messages, with the majority presumably already intending to vote for your candidate. Most use cases therefore focus on providing information, mobilization, and fundraising, although it doesn’t hurt to include a more direct pitch to help sway undecided voters. 

  1. Voter registration and mobilization: Send reminders, localized polling place information, and personalized appeals to maximize voter registration and turnout on the day.
  2. Issue advocacy and education: Raise awareness and share information about key policies to inform and inspire supporters. When the opposition tries to spread misinformation, use SMS to respond with up-to-the-minute factual content.  
  3. Volunteer recruitment and management: Every election campaign benefits from an army of volunteers to canvass support, distribute information, organize local events, and much more. Use SMS to reliably share updates, coordinate tasks, and boost the morale of those helping your cause. 
  4. Endorsement notifications : Endorsements from respected politicians or celebrities are a very successful way of encouraging undecided voters to side with a particular candidate. Send news of the endorsement and ideally a quote from the person to increase the relatability of the message.   
  5. Send breaking news: In the final days and hours before an election, send any breaking news that relates to local candidates and issues and help position your organization as a dynamic and trusted source of information. 
  6. Fundraising and donations: Fundraising is a key use case for election SMS campaigns, but it is more effective when sent alongside the useful information that we have already mentioned. Send targeted appeals, share campaign progress updates, and of course thank donors for their contributions. 

An unofficial study by Washington DC based digital agency ‘imge’ during the 2019 presidential campaign tracked how each candidate used SMS. 

We signed up to receive SMS alerts from every presidential campaign so you don’t have to. We responded to every text, clicked every link, and signed every petition. Short of donating, we were the ideal engaged user for each of these programs.

Although the method wasn’t exactly scientific, some of the findings were extremely interesting to any organization in the election game.


  • 45.71% of the text messages were direct donation requests, in fact some candidates only sent donation requests. 
  • Kamala Harris had the lowest proportion of donation requests at 10%, preferring to focus on voter mobilization. 


  • 67.23% of messages included a link. 
  • Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders used links the most with over 90% of messages including one.


  • Only three candidates used images in their texts. Every other campaign used a combination of text and links.
  • Pete Buttigieg used images the most – even sending pictures of his dogs.

Messaging style

For us, one of the most interesting takeaways from the study was how SMS was used as a natural extension of each candidate’s personal brand and style of communication. From Donald trump sending direct sales messages ALL IN CAPS, to Elizabeth Warren’s focus on planning and preparedness.

While the use of the SMS channel varies wildly from candidate to candidate, one thing was consistent: each campaign used the channel in a way that reinforced the candidate’s personal communication style.

While you may not agree with individual candidates’ policies and political record, we can see how they each use SMS in a way that helps to achieve their campaign goals most effectively.

10DLC registration rules for election messaging

Political text messaging is a powerful tool when used responsibly and in compliance with local laws and etiquette. This includes getting clear opt-ins from people before sending messages and in the US, registering with the Campaign Registry (TCR), which is the agency that collects all brand and campaign data in order to allow for transparency on the 10DLC network.

In order to comply with 10DLC regulations, any business sending 10DLC traffic needs to register both their brand and each campaign with the Campaign Registry. For each brand that is registered, the TCR will complete a brand identity check, which will result in either a VERIFIED or UNVERIFIED status. Only verified brands are allowed to proceed with registering a campaign.

How can Infobip help with 10DLC?

With our 10DLC service and APIs you can view your entire inventory of originators (short codes, long codes, alphanumeric) – as well as provision and configure your 10DLC numbers. 

We can help to ensure the campaign you register meets all compliance standards and assist you with fast, easy brand and campaign registration to TCR.

This makes us a one-stop-shop for organizations that want to send and receive SMS and MMS messages on 10DLC. 

We cover the entire registration process in our 10DLC documentation including: 

  1. Buying a number.
  2. Creating and registering a brand.
  3. (optional) Vetting your brand.
  4. Creating a campaign connected to a number.
  5. Review by Infobip Compliance team and submit to The Campaign Registry (TCR).
  6. Review by underlying provider.
  7. Going live.

For information on obtaining opt-in from voters – see our detailed blog Your guide to SMS opt-ins in the US and beyond: requirements, examples, and campaign creation. 

How a Customer Data Platform (CDP) can maximize your SMS campaign success

Almost all of the election use cases that we mentioned above require knowledge of the recipient to be effective.

  • To direct voters to their nearest polling station, you need to know their physical location.
  • To provide information that addresses individual policy concerns you need to record what these are for each voter.
  • To manage donation requests responsibly you need to know individuals’ donation history.

The best way of managing this information securely and effectively is with a customer data platform (CDP). This is a cloud-based software and database that enables you to unify all the information that you hold on individual voters that have opted-in to receiving messages from you.

The benefits of using a CDP for managing your voter data include:

  • Voter data in one place: Unify all voter information in a single repository that can then be used to create personalized messaging by segmenting audiences on any combination of data point.
  • Responsiveness: Increase the agility of your messaging by being able to respond immediately based on voter actions and behavior and campaign developments. 
  • Continuous refinement: Improve the performance of your campaigns by tracking performance in real-time and optimizing messaging for maximum impact. 
  • Avoid compliance issues: Ensure that opt-in status is maintained in real-time to avoid bad PR and fines for sending unsolicited messages. 
  • Data availability: Cloud storage means that voter data can be accessed by your staff from anywhere. 
  • Multiple data sources: Import data from just about any source including web, mobile app, out-of-the box connectors, APIs, SDKs, and other integrations. 
  • Data privacy and security: Information is held securely in global data centers that are also used by international banks and brands with the highest confidentiality requirements. 

Transforming citizen engagement: A government chatbot playbook.

Feb 23rd, 2024
7 min read
Senior Content Marketing Specialist

Dave Hitchins

Senior Content Marketing Specialist