Local News

Candidates' Telemarketing Tactics Keep Phone Lines Busy

Posted July 21, 2004

— It has not just been a busy week for political candidates, but also for voters.

Thousands of voters have been inundated with seemingly nonstop political phone calls at home. Many of them want the messages to stop.

Susan Russell said she got 20 calls Monday from political candidates preparing for Tuesday's primary. She was not expecting any of them.

"I hung up on all of them," Russell said.

The recorded messages were from Republicans and Democrats. Voter Craig Zeni said they are ineffective and a nuisance.

"It's not going to help me vote for them," Zeni said. "If anything, it would discourage me from voting for them."

Voters called both the Republican and Democratic headquarters to complain about the phone messages. Party officials said there was nothing they could do, noting that it was up to an individual candidates to decide how to run their campaigns.

"I agree they are really annoying," state Senate candidate Janet Cowell said.

But Cowell used them, anyway. She said that, costing only pennies a call, they can be effective if used right.

"We used them more early in the campaign to talk about neighborhood meetings where I know folks wouldn't be getting a lot of calls," Cowell said.

Zeni wondered why political candidates cannot be added to the Do Not Call List. Attorney General Roy Cooper said it would be unconstitutional.

"I don't necessarily agree with this," Cooper said. "But most courts would hold that there is a First-Amendment protection here."

Nevertheless, some homeowners feel they need the protection in their own home.

Cooper said he will not use phone messages in his campaign. With nearly 2 million North Carolinians signed up for the Do Not Call List, he is encouraging other candidates to voluntarily obey residents' wishes.

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