How Did Robo Calls Affect the Election?

| Sat Nov. 11, 2006 11:58 AM EST

According to TPM Muckraker.com, voters in more than two dozens districts throughout the country were barraged with sometimes-harrassing robo calls in the weeks prior to the election. In at least seven of those districts, Democrats lost by margins of only a couple of thousand votes.

In Florida's 13th District, Democrat Christine Jennings, who is involved in a recount, lost the election by only 386 votes. In the last three weeks of the campaign, the Republican Party spent over $58,000 on robo calls against Jennings. In the case of Jennings and other candidates, people receiving such a call at first thought the caller was the Democratic candidate because of the call's misleading opening. Several voters complained about this. If a voter listens to the entire call, only then does she discover that the call comes from the Republican Party. But the majority of people, of course, hang up. The problem is that the phone rings again...and again and again and again, until the voter listens to the entire call. Since most people do not want to listen, voters are left with the impression that they are being harrassed by Democratic candidates.

Democrats have asked the FEC, the FCC and the Department of Justice to investigate the nature of campaign robo calls.