SPECIAL REPORT: What You Can Do to Stop Political Robocalls

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

It's election season, filled with political debates, campaign stops, television ads and robocalls.

Political robocalls are those automated phone calls from candidates, special interest groups and others that are popular leading up to an election.

Political robocalls have exploded in popularity over the past few years. Almost every politician will use them at some point, and they can reach you in more ways than one.

Along with coming home to a blinking answering machine where an automated message awaits, more robocalls are going directly to your cell phone.

"I personally believe that robocalls are not a very positive form of democracy they're essentially phone spam, they don't encourage debate or discourse," said Shaun Dakin.

Dakin is the founder of Citizens for Civil Discourse and the National Political Do Not Contact Registry. He wants to give control of the political conversation back to the American voter, and is fighting for voter privacy.

Dakin says the worst part may be, independent studies on political robocalls show they don't work.

They're very easy, they're very cheap, they're very efficient but they're not effective," he said.

They also tend to be nasty and are often impossible to track.

So why do politicians continue to use them? The answer may be, because they can. They're exempt from do not call registries.

"Politicians love to make laws and then exempt themselves from those very, very same laws," he said.

That's something Dakin hopes to change. You can add your name to the National Political Do Not Contact Registry at the Stop Political Robocalls website. Then the organization sends your contact information to all political parties, candidates, and political action committees that make robocalls asking to keep you off the list.

So far only 30 lawmakers have agreed, and none represent Wisconsin.

Maybe you want to give the politicians a taste of their own medicine, you can do that too with a reverse robocall.

"You essentially select the name of the politician you want to call, you put in your phone number you record your message and then the system sends your robocall to the politician," Dakin says. It costs about $0.99 per message.

He encourages people not to vote for those who use robocalls, to call your representatives urging them to give up the practice, and to never give out your information. Even when registering to vote, you only need to give your address and proof of residence.

Of the 400,000 people who've registered on the political do not call list, about five percent are from Wisconsin.

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