By Mark Huffman
June 8, 2010
With anti-incumbent fever sweeping the nation, this primary election season has been more active than most. That means millions of Americans have received automated telephone calls in recent days promoting a candidate or ballot initiative.
Some consumers, like Pamela of Pasadena, Calif., have had enough."For weeks, I've been receiving between four to ten calls per day regarding the primary elections," Pamela told ConsumerAffairs.com. "These are recordings so there's no opportunity to ask a question. They're commercials basically. My 92-year old mother can't take a nap! I'm very interested in the elections, and do my homework, but I don't want all these calls coming to my home day and night."
Even if Pamela were on the national Do Not Call list, it wouldn't stop the political robo calls. That's because when Congress wrote the law setting up the Do Not Call list, it exempted political calls, as well as charitable solicitations and surveys. But many people find political robo calls just as annoying as ones from telemarketers.
"I would like the Do Not Call list to extend to pre-recorded messages which serve no purpose," Pamela said. "There's no assurance of accuracy in these statements. In California many have been outright lies, and anyone who would vote for someone after listening to a recording, shouldn't be voting. Can anything be done?"
Some people are trying.
Shaun Dakin, the CEO and founder of Citizens for Civil Discourse, has set up a website to campaign for political calls to be included in those forbidden if one is on the Do Not Call list.
As a start, he is gathering names and numbers of consumers who want to opt out. He says they will be forwarded to the political parties, requesting they be voluntarily excluded. So far, he says, about 50,000 consumers have signed up.
"We work with candidates and advocacy groups to educate them on the lack of effectiveness of political robo calls and encourage them to use alternate channels to communicate with voters," Dakin said on his website.
Unless the law is changed, annoyed consumers will have to find a work-around. One anonymous poster on a SeattlePI.com forum offered this advice:
"I just put the phone down," they wrote. "I don't hang up, just put it down so I don't have to listen to them babble. That way at least they can't call someone else for the minute or so they think they are talking to me."