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Robocalls Confuse Voters
Posted on Nov 4, 2008
The Union of Politics and Telemarketing—What’s Not to Like?
Robocalls—those recorded, automatically dialed phone messages—have been lighting up phones everywhere the past few days. Nobody seems to like getting them. Some are innocuous—the standard fare of campaigns and candidates. But then there are underhanded, unaccountable calls meant to confuse voters.
For example, calls have been going out into Virginia and Pennsylvania telling people to vote tomorrow, on Nov. 5, according to Jonah Goldman, director of Election Protection at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. Goldman says he doesn’t know who’s responsible, but similar misleading messages are being distributed via email, FaceBook and flyers, often targeting young and minority voters.
A third kind of robocall comes from independent groups trying to influence your vote. The Republican Jewish Coalition, for example, is sending anti-Obama robocalls to Jewish voters. The call quotes Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) saying that Obama lacked the “political courage” to leave Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church. The RJC labels the United Church of Christ congregation “anti-Semitic” and “anti-American.” The call hammers home the point with this: “If Obama doesn’t have the courage to do the right thing here at home, can he stand up to dictators and tyrants who seek to do us harm? We should all be concerned about Barack Obama.”
The National Political Do Not Call Registry tracks all sorts of robocalls—and lets you report them.
In 2004, Americans United to Preserve Marriage ran ads attacking Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and a Democratic Senate candidate on gay marraige. The biggest donors for that effort were Tom Ward and Aubrey McClendon, founders of the Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corporation. They’re also in the group of investors that bought the Seattle SuperSonics basketball team and turned them into the Oklahoma City Thunder.
—By Will Evans, Center for Investigative Reporting.
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