Robo-Calls Invade, But Can They Conquer?

Automatic calls can backfire, too
By Laila Weir,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2008 2:21 AM CDT

As Election Day looms, America's phones are ringing off the hook. Voters—especially in swing states—have received hundreds of millions of robocalls this year. But voters, curious about the novelty calls 10 years ago, increasingly associate them with ugly scare tactics. "Next week Robo-Call supposed to tell black people election canceled," quipped Will Forte on last week's Saturday Night Live.

One anti-political-calls activist calls them “harassment, plain and simple,” and a number of states now restrict their use. One Yale professor says they simply don't work at all. But a robo-vendor insists that auto-dialing is both cost-effective and protected under the First Amendment. "No one ever said that democracy had to be convenient," he said. (More robocalls stories.)

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