Politicians should abide by Do Not Call Registry

Published 8:45 am Tuesday, February 26, 2008

By Staff
There you were, just getting ready to sit down to supper and the phone rings. On the other end of the line is a recorded voice trying to sell you something.
It wasn’t long ago that such a thing was common. The Do Not Call Registry in 2003 changed most of that. Consumers could sign up, and telemarketers were bound by their wishes not to disturb them. People who join the registry are protected by state and federal laws from most “robo calls.”
The term refers to an automated telemarketing phone call that uses both a computerized automatic dialer and a computer-delivered recorded message. The implication is that a “robo call” resembles a telephone call from a robot.
So far, more than four million North Carolina phone numbers have been placed on the Do Not Call Registry. North Carolinians may add their home and mobile telephone numbers to the list by calling 1-888-382-1222 from the number they wish to register or by visiting www.nocallsnc.com.
The problem is the law exempts political candidates. Roy Cooper, who is running for another term as state attorney general, thinks that should be changed.
Cooper helped push through the Do Not Call Registry in 2003 to help North Carolinians cut down on unwanted commercial telemarketing calls. U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield has called the law one of the most popular in U.S. history. Cooper said hundreds of people complained to his office about getting bombarded with calls leading up to the 2006 elections. Last year, Cooper urged passage of Senate Bill 1002 to ban political candidates and parties from making robo calls to people who have placed their numbers on the registry but the measure has yet to become law.
While politicians may still call, there are limits. Under state law, political campaigns making prerecorded calls must identify who is making the call, the nature of the call and provide contact information for the group or campaign that makes the call. That’s still not much of a consolation when you get disturbed at supper.
To report telemarketers or candidates who make calls unlawfully, consumers may call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free or download a complaint form at www.ncdoj.gov.
Voters may take action to stop unwanted calls by registering (for free) at the NCDNC Web site, (www.stoppoliticalcalls.org) a site run by the National Political Do Not Call Registry.
So far, only North Carolina Congresswoman Virginia Foxx has signed the pledge not to use telemarketing. We hope others do the same.
If North Carolina residents can’t make it illegal to get unwanted calls from political candidates, they may still use another important tool. They may simply not vote for them. That should send a powerful message to politicians.