Voters Seek to Avoid Campaign Robocalls

· Feb. 23, 2012, 6:26 pm

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce is trying to help its members avoid phone calls from political campaigns this election season.  But it may be hard for residents to completely scrub their phone numbers from voter lists.

This is a transcript of a report by CPR's Anna Panoka:

Reporter Anna Panoka: The Chamber’s President Diane Schwenke says the discussion started at a meeting soon after Colorado’s GOP caucuses.  The folks around the table were complaining about calls from the presidential campaigns, when one of them said there was a way to become a “confidential voter.”  Schwenke says the Chamber passed that on to members in an email.

Diane Schwenke: We’re just at the beginning of the political season, so we’re going to see a lot more of that type of activity, so we thought this would be helpful.

Reporter: Information about voters is public record, but residents can pay five dollars and fill out a form to keep their information private, if they’re being harassed or stalked or otherwise concerned about their physical safety.  Election officials say about 4,000 Coloradans are on the official “confidential voter” list.  But other Residents can just ask elections officials to keep their phone numbers off the statewide voter database.  That’s the list political parties and campaigns purchase for get-out-the-vote efforts.  Spokesman Rich Coolidge says the Secretary of State’s Office gets a handful of those requests each year, but he says that won’t necessarily stop the calls.

Richard Coolidge: The political parties now are much more sophisticated, and they’re purchasing lists from magazine subscriptions to the yellow pages and all that, and so they’re working a lot of different lists in order to contact you.

Reporter: Matt Inzeo with the Colorado Democratic Party says party officials will delete voters’ contact information on request, but those requests don’t come often.   

Matt Inzeo: Even when you saw stories at the height of the Denver mayoral campaign about all the robocalls folks were getting, it was at most a handful of people every week.

Reporter: But most people probably don’t know it’s possible to get off the party’s list. And doing that doesn’t guarantee campaigns won’t call.  

[Photo: CPR]

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