Political robocalls could be added to Wisconsin’s do-not-call list and become illegal before the Wisconsin governor’s race if a bipartisan bill makes it through the Wisconsin Legislature. Similar proposals in the past never made it into law, partly because of opposition from special interest groups that use the automated robocalls. But authors of Senate Bill 97 say it has better odds than any bill in the past because it’s extremely popular with increasingly frustrated consumers and because it has 30 co-sponsors — more than any previous bill. “I think it still has some obstacles to clear, but it’s closer to passing now than it has been at any point in the past,” said Rep. André Jacque (R-DePere), one of the bill’s authors. “A large part is, with every election season, you see a higher number of calls. Technology has made it easier and cheaper to make these calls. It’s something, if we don’t get it passed, I think we’re going to continue to hear from constituents.”
Under existing law, telemarketers who advertise property, goods and services are banned from making prerecorded or automated calls to people registered on either Wisconsin’s or the Federal Trade Commission’s do-not-call list. But political calls are exempt. That means even if consumers ask for their name to be removed from a political call list, campaigns aren’t required to comply.
“During the last election cycle, voters were saturated with robocalls, amounting to little more than harassment in their own homes,” said Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh), another co-sponsor, in a news release about the bill. “Many of my constituents were inundated with upwards of a dozen calls a day.”
Political robocalls are an increasing problem because technology has made them so easy and cheap to make, at only a few cents per call. Research has shown robocalls have no effect on voting habits, turnout or persuasion.