Political Pests Phone for Primary

The former congressman Vito Fossella called this weekend, along with a gaggle of other politicians pushing candidates for Tuesday’s primary. It wasn’t the actual congressman, who resigned after a drunk driving conviction, but an automated recording—one of the many “robo-calls” that have interrupted dinners, naps and quiet evenings in the run-up to the election.

Politicos across the nation have eagerly awaited the midterm Congressional elections with many speculating on whether or not Republicans can win back control of one or both chambers. In New York, races for governor, attorney general and state senate have ratcheted up the wonks and pundits. Candidates from all levels of government have bombarded voters with “robo-calls,” irking an already irritable electorate. Those calls will only increase when the polls close at 9:00 p.m., according to Shaun Dakin, the CEO and Founder of The National Political Do Not Contact Registry, a non-partisan group.

“As the candidates, external groups such as national parties, unions, and other funded organizations, get geared up for the campaign(s),” Dakin said in an e-mail message,“there will be an onslaught of ‘robo-calls.’”

In 2007, Congress passed legislation that created the “National Do Not Call Registry,” which prevents telemarketers from harassing consumers whose names are registered. But the law exempts political organizations and charities because they do not fall under the category of telemarketing, according to the Federal Trade Commission web site. A year earlier, in the 2006 midterm elections, a Pew research report found that robo-calling was the second most popular form of political advertisement, behind direct mail.
“Robocalls are getting cheaper and cheaper” said Dakin, “and therefore more and more candidates, from President to Dog Catcher, are using them to attempt to reach voters.”

Sound off about “robo-calls” at the polling booths and the poll below.

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