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Robo-Calls and Push Polls

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Message Mary Howe Kiraly

Robo-Calls and Push Polls: Both parties uses robo-calls as a cost effective way to reach voters about candidates. However, hidden in this network are computer generated messages, intended to create unfounded suspicions about candidates, or deliver incorrect information to voters. The most well-known of these efforts occurred in South Carolina in 2000 when John McCain was the victim. As the election nears, reports are increasing that deceptive robo-call campaigns are being used in competitive races around the country. The goal is not to deliver legitimate messages or solicit legitimate polling data. Calls often occur multiple times in a day, and occur late into the night.

Spin: "All political organizations engage in information efforts. If the calls are going exclusively to voters of one party, that is a computer glitch or problem with the contractor." There is no evidence to support this claim.

The Effect of this Strategy: Robo-Calls of this nature suppress voter turnout and confuse voters about what candidates stand for. They are also used to confuse voters about and where to vote on Tuesday.

In New Mexico yesterday, Democrats went to court to force the NRCC to stop using robo-calls, directed at Democrats, to deliver false polling station information.

According to the Associated Press, Heath Schuler, a challenger in North Carolina, claims that Republican calls are being received as late as 2:30 a.m.
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In Illinois, Democratic congressional candidates Melissa Dean and Tammy Duckworth, are hearing that constituents have been contacted numerous times, ostensibly by the Dean and Duckworth Campaigns. When confronted with evidence that the calls originated with the NRCC, NRCC spokesperson John Collegio admitted they were calling voters in Illinois. His spin: the repeated calls to Democrats must have resulted from a "computer glitch" or a "problem with the contractor.",ba-chrobocalls68-110206-s1.article

The Washington Post reported that push polling robo-calls in Maryland asked voters if they supported medical research on unborn babies. If the caller responded "no," she/he was told that (D) Senate candidate Ben Cardin supports stem cell research on unborn babies; and (R) Candidate Michael Steele opposes such research. Those calls came from "Common Sense of Maryland," a group aligned with "Common Sense of Ohio."

Several Conservative organizations, supported by the same people responsible for the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth campaign, have been responsible for robo-calls in Georgia, Iowa, Tennessee, and Montana.
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Mary Howe Kiraly is a voting activist living in Maryland.
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