UPDATED 10/1/12: One of the worst things about a big election year is not all the negative ads -- you can tune those out -- but unwanted political phone calls.
And if you thought they were bad back in the 2008 presidential election, it appears they are even n worse this year.
Everyone Now Does It
The Republicans are guilty of doing it. The Democrats are guilty of doing it.
In this important 2012 presidential race, both political parties are using automated "robo-calling" by computers to raise money. It's easy and cheap for them.
Susan Scardina told us, "Oh yes, I have gotten some of these calls and they tend to be prolonged."'
Voters like Katie Iser and Bree Moylan hate them.
"You can't tell them you don't want to talk," Moylan said. "They keep talking or the automated thing keeps going and you get annoyed."
Iser gets infuriated, saying "it's wasting my cell phone minutes."
Where did they get my number?
So, how do campaigns get your name and number? We asked political consultant Travis Horn and former consultant Wayne Garcia. Both have used pre-recorded 'robocalls' in campaigns they've worked on.
"The people who end up on these lists are there because they've done the right thing. They have voted," Garcia said.
Campaigns most often get names and phone numbers because people are asked to include them when they register to vote.
"Counties collect this information when folks file for voter applications, and it's public information. So it's difficult for folks to get off once they're on a calling list," Horn said.
What you can do
Horn and Garcia sy one of the few ways to get off of a political call list is to re-register to vote and leave out your phone number.
The Board of Elections will not change your voter form if you call them. You can try an in-person visit, which may or may not work.
You can also call a campaign and ask to be removed, but that doesn't always work, because the campaigns don't often have a process set up to remove people from a list.
Laws Don't Help
Don't bother with the Do Not Call List: Political calls are exempt.
Four years ago, in the midst of the Obama-McCain phone call war, a Washington, D.C. attorney decided enough is enough, and launched a political do-not-call list, the first of its type.
Shaun Dakin runs the website Stop Political Calls.org.
"I want to give the American people the right to stop campaigns from calling them at home, if that is what they want them to do," Dakin said.
It asks politicians to voluntary stop calling its members.
More than 400,000 people have signed up on the site. But unfortunately, only 38 national politicians have agreed to honor it as of August 2012.
The Bottom Line
So Dakin has three suggestions:
-Visit (don't call) your local elections office, and remove your phone number if it's in their files. Candidates and parties have legal access to your name, address, and phone number there.
-Call the local Democrat or Republican party headquarters, and remove your number there too. Tell any candidate who calls to remove your name.
-Sign up on the Stop Political Calls web site. (stoppoliticalcalls.org/index.php)
The website may not stop the robo-calls, but it will at least tell politicians you are sick of their computerized mnessages.
And that way you don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.
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