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GOP Making Harrassing Calls To Voters

Talking Points | November 6, 2006
Josh Marshall

A number of readers have written in to ask what if any effective response there is to these robocalls we've been writing about.

First, let's address our definitions. Automated political campaign calls are a staple of modern politics. Both sides put in millions of them every election year. That's because they're very cheap, fairly effective and they get less scrutiny than 'public' ads on tv and radio.

To the extent that's what we're talking about, there's nothing 'to do' about them any more than there is anything to do about nasty or unfair 30 second tv spots.

What we're talking about is something a bit different. What we're seeing is an apparent coordinated effort from the NRCC -- the House GOP committee -- to place calls that appear to be from the local Democratic candidate and then automatically call the same number back as many as seven or eight times each time the caller hang-ups. If the caller listens to the whole message it goes on to bash the Democratic candidate. But if the caller hangs up prematurely, the computer calls right back. Hang-ups are the achilles heal of robo-calls. So this seems to be an attempt to cover for that weakness by making those who hang up think the Democratic candidate is basically harassing them with phone calls. The GOP wins either way.

What is there to do about it. As described, the calls appear to be in violation of federal regulations which mandate that these calls clearly identify their origin. The repetitive call back may also be a violation in different states. The New Hampshire AG apparently just intervened to force the NRCC to stop the calls in that state. But frankly, none of that matters. Because the folks placing the calls factor in the price of whatever fines might be meted out after the election when the damage is already done.

Truthfully, I don't think there's really much to do but publicize it and then get out and vote.

A lot of these races remain inside the MOE, the margin of error. And that means the MOT, the margin of theft. If Dems want to pick up seats on Tuesday they'll have to get a lot of these races out of the MOT. Because as long as they're inside, the Republicans can still grab them with a mix of voter suppression, dirty tricks and election fraud.

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