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On campaign calls: How about respecting voters’ right to privacy?

Friday, January 20, 2012

(Washington Post)

Letter to the Editor

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/on-campaign-calls-how-about-respecting-voters-right-to-privacy/2012/01/16/gIQACZ0mBQ_story.html?wprss=rss_opinions

On campaign calls: How about respecting voters’ right to privacy?

Regarding the Jan. 14 front-page article “A call out to the grass roots”:

It was interesting to read about volunteers’ perspective as they attempt to activate 2008 Obama supporters one phone call at a time. What was missing from the article, however, was the perspective of the voter on the other end of the call.

In the United States, voters have virtually no privacy rights. The “Do Not Call” list exempts political calls, and campaigns offer no easy way for voters to opt out. With the Obama.com “phone from home” tool, a voter’s name, phone number, gender and location are displayed for anyone with a Facebook account to see. Amazingly, this is an improvement over 2010, when Obama.com gave out a voter’s age and party ID as well.

Who does a better job of protecting the privacy of voters? The Republicans. The Republican National Committee’s “phone from home” tool does not display a voter’s phone number, gender or location. Instead of requiring volunteers to make their own calls, the RNC tool calls a volunteer at home and connects him or her with a voter. The voter’s phone number is not displayed, and the caller ID is from the Republican Party in the voter’s home state.

It is time for political parties to start respecting voter privacy and to allow voters to opt out of political communications that they don’t want.

Shaun Dakin, Washington

The writer is the chief executive of the National Political Do Not Contact Registry.

 

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