Joanna Rees Robocalls Irk Voters. Democracy Can Be Annoying.

Categories: Politics
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Just in time for dinner
Negative attention is still attention. In that case, perhaps irritating voters enough to start popping off in e-mail threads is the campaign strategy for Joanna Rees, the "progressive independent" running for mayor in 2012.

Rees' campaign has already started inundating voters in the Richmond District with the forever disturbing robocalls -- asking them to come out to her new campaign headquarters on Geary Boulevard (although she did say Geary Street in the message). The automated calls sparked e-mails among Richmond neighbors; some of them were curious and others were just irritated that the campaign was already calling.

"I called her campaign to tell them I did not want them to call my cell phone anymore," said Sue Vaughan, a local voter and Green party honcho. "It costs me money."

"I don't know how they got my cell phone number," Vaughan added.

Here is how. "All the stuff you put on the [voter registration] form when the guy accosts you at Safeway to vote is now in the hands of some telemarketer," said Jim Ross, a local political consultant.

But how effective are robocalls anyway? Well, that depends. If Rees had Barack Obama calling on her behalf, then, sure, people would probably show up to her campaign kickoff. But if it's just Rees' voice at the other end of the line, most people are going to hang up, Ross said.

"That's pretty ineffective," Ross said. "But maybe she wanted to create a buzz -- because now you are calling me to do a story and perhaps that's her strategy."

Good point. After all, bad publicity is free publicity.  

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Susan_e_vaughan
Susan_e_vaughan

It's happening again. I just got a robo call on my cell phone from Jeff Adachi and the pension reform campaign. So I called the SF Department of Elections to find out if, somehow, someone had changed my voter reg to show my cell phone number instead of my land line number. No change had been made -- it's my land line on my voter reg form. The woman who answered the phone at the Dept of Elections said the thing had happened to her.

Sue Vaughan
Sue Vaughan

Shaun, I'm sorry to here that robo calls are illegal unless preceded by a live human operator. Robo calls are one inexpensive way that grassroots candidates without corporate backing can get the word out that they are running and what they stand for. Robo calls are one way progressive candidates can compete with the likes of corporate-backed candidates (there are plenty of examples in SF).

That being said, both my land line and my cell phone numbers are on the Do Not Call List. But, I repeat, when I registered to vote, I included my land line number. And I get robo calls on my land line on a regular basis, and I don't mind getting them because I like knowing what's going on.

My cell phone? I use my cell phone sparingly because of concerns about health and because I pay for calls and texts after a certain amount of usage. How did Joanna Rees's campaign get my cell phone number? And how do anonymous scammers find my cell phone number and send me texts about this or that offer to wire $1,500 into my account? I repeat, I have listed my cell phone number on the Do Not Call List.

* California Public Utilities Code Sections 2871-2876

The California Public Utilities Code specifically makes robo calls that are not preceded by a live human operator illegal.

City ParentandVoter
City ParentandVoter

Political communications are protected speech. The do not call lists don't apply to political calls - robo or live.

Shaun Dakin
Shaun Dakin

Actually robocalls are illegal in CA (political as well). Only no one in political office seems to want to enforce the law. Wonder why!?

Here is more about the law and how to complain

http://www.stoppoliticalcalls....

Shaun DakinFounder - The National Political Do Not Contact RegistryA non partisan non profit fighting for voter privacy rights@EndTheRoboCalls

Sue Vaughan
Sue Vaughan

Erin, I did indeed include my phone number when I registered to vote many years ago -- my land line phone number, not my cell phone number. I get political robo calls all the time to my land line. This is the first time I have ever gotten a political robo call to my cell phone. So the question remains: how did Joanna Rees's campaign get my cell phone number?

Able Dart
Able Dart

No mystery there. You either worked or volunteered on a campaign or joined a political club where you gave your cell out. They sell or trade those contacts as well. No smart activist gives out anything but backstopped contact info. Silly Greenie

Akit
Akit

Isn't robocalling illegal on cell phones? I already reported her ass to the FCC. She might as well pay my cell phone bill too for wasting my precious minutes.

Robocall Enforcer
Robocall Enforcer

Akit, you are right, unsolicited robocalls to cell phones are a violation of federal law. The relevant statute is 47 U.S.C. 227 section b, "Restrictions on the use of automated telephone equipment." If you got one of these calls on a cell phone, congratulations, you are now entitled to collect $500.

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