Local News

Cooper Wants to Add 'Robocalls' to Do Not Call Registry

Posted November 22, 2006 7:45 p.m. EST
Updated November 22, 2006 9:12 p.m. EST

North Carolina’s attorney general wants to put a halt to prerecorded messages from political candidates that fill phone lines heading into Election Day.

Responding to hundreds of complaints from frustrated voters, Attorney General Roy Cooper is calling on the state political parties and lawmakers to work together to stop what are called "robocalls."

"I think political robocalls have gotten out of control," Cooper said. "They tie up your phone line. Often times, you can’t even hang up during the call because it won’t let your phone line go."

Cooper wants the political phone barrage added to the list of banned telemarketers on the National Do Not Call Registry, which helps millions of North Carolina residents bock telemarketers.

"Those who say they don't want these calls ought to be able to be free from these interruptions," Cooper said.

Candidates use the taped phone messages because they are inexpensive and reach a wide block of voters.

Although political consultant Brad Crone has used the calls for clients in the past, he thinks they can do more harm than good for candidates when it comes close to Election Day.

"When it first started, it was pretty innovative. It was new and unique," Crone said. "It's none of those, at this point. I understand how absolutely aggravating they can be."

He sees two obstacles for the proposed "robo" ban: First, some will argue a ban would unfairly restrict political free speech. Second, state lawmakers would have to approve the ban. They’re the ones who often campaign with the calls.

If lawmakers do not approve the ban, Crone savoters can at least limit the calls by asking the State Board of Elections to remove their phone numbers from voter registration forms.