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Robocall Campaigns Dialing Up As Election Season Draws NearMonday, December 19, 2011
'Tis the season for mudslinging politicians and unbridled political advocacy ... so it follows that it's the season for those annoying automated phone calls from politicos and their supporters too.
The latest round of nationwide presidential campaign-related robocalls is one apparently initiated by the contingent of people who are still not over Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's failed 2008 bid for the Democratic nomination.
Shaun Dakin, CEO and Founder of the National Political Do Not Contact Registry and Reverse Robocall, says that people in North Carolina and New York have reported receiving the calls. It seems that they're going out to voters in Maryland too: Paul Glastris, Editor-in-Chief of Washington Monthly, reported receiving one of the calls to his home in Maryland, as did others in that state.
Monday's calls follow those reported on Friday in New Hampshire conducted on behalf of former House Speaker and GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich.
New Hampshire's State Attorney General received formal complaints from two local Republican officials about the calls, where it's illegal for campaigns to make calls to numbers that have been registered on a national do-not-call list. The Gingrich campaign has denied any wrongdoing.
It wasn't the first time that Gingrich's campaign has used robocalls this election cycle. Over the past month, numerous people have reported receiving automated phone calls from the Gingrich campaign with a rambling message from Newt himself. If anyone stays on to listen to the whole message, they're then transferred to an operator who's there to solicit that person's financial information for a donation.
Such campaigns probably won't end anytime soon since it's incredibly cheap to make such calls. Search for "robocalls" online, and you'll find that campaigns can pay as little as two to three cents for each call that they make. In some fundraising cases, the entity charged with making the calls are paid a percentage of whatever amount that they manage to rake in, notes Dakin.
"That's what campaigns do when they don't have any money, and you don't have any organization or staff," he says.
Dakin has been working to limit such calls over the past few years. Earlier this year, he and a friend Aaron Titus, a lawyer and privacy expert, founded Reverse Robocall, a start-up company that enables voters in the United States to "get even" instead of merely getting mad with their politicians and presidential candidates.
For 99 cents, anyone on the internet can call their member of congress or presidential candidate with a pre-recorded message of their own.
People can even log their calls and make them publicly-available online.
The tool was first launched mid November, but in a way it could be the duo's best Christmas present for voters in Iowa, who have to suffer through the Christmas season because their state is the first to vote in their caucuses on January 3.