robocalls

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Virginia: Voters Get Mysterious Robocalls That Their Polling Places Have Changed | The Intercept

Virginians go to the polls today to vote on a number of statewide and legislative races. But voters in one prominent swing county in Virginia have received robocalls falsely telling them their polling places have changed. Harry Wiggins, chair of the Prince Williams County Democratic Committee, told The Intercept that voters started alerting him about these calls last Friday. “Some of those people were actually called multiple times,” Wiggins said. “They’re saying, ‘Your regular polling places has changed, you need to vote at a different polling place.’” As of Tuesday, Wiggins said 32 voters have alerted him that they had received these robocalls. Robin Williams, chair of the Prince Williams County Elections Board, confirmed to The Intercept that they have forwarded these complaints to the state — which has the power to investigate and prosecute election shenanigans. He also said that the county was not responsible for these calls. “If we change a precinct, we can’t do it 60 days before an election,” he said. He pointed out that every voter is notified by mail if their polling station is changed. “We spend a fair amount of money in order to move one of these precincts, a lot of notice. … You will never get a phone call from us or anything like that. Our communication to you is by mail.”

Full Article: Virginia Voters Get Mysterious Robocalls That Their Polling Places Have Changed.

National: Judge: First Amendment Protects Political Robocalls | Wall Street Journal

Political robocalls may be an irritating feature of modern campaigning, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve protection under the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled. A decision handed down Wednesday in Arkansas federal court struck down a state law passed 35 years ago that banned political robocalls. The statute restricted commercial robocalling and also made it unlawful to solicit information “in connection with a political campaign” using an automated phone system for dialing numbers and playing recorded messages. The restriction was challenged by a Virginia-based communications firm, Conquest Communications Group, which sought “to conduct automated telephone calls in the state, including surveys, messages concerning voting, express advocacy calls, and a variety of other calls made in connection with political campaigns.”

Full Article: Judge: First Amendment Protects Political Robocalls - Law Blog - WSJ.

Voting Blogs: Robo-calls, in Montana and Elsewhere | State of Elections

Missoula, Montana, is a beautiful city. There are mountains in the distance, tall, deep-green trees everywhere, old buildings – and a rocky, white-swirling river moving through it. No reasonable person seeing Missoula for the first time would think to focus on the city’s current robo-call election law controversy. This month, parents of students enrolled in Missoula’s schools received automated phone calls containing a message from Missoula’s mayor, John Engen. The content of the message is available on Youtube. In short, the message urges parents to vote on an upcoming bond, tells them where and how they can cast their ballot, and ends with this encouragement: “Thank you for everything you do to support your children, and to ensure a positive future for your family – and our wonderful community.”

Full Article: Robo-calls, in Montana and Elsewhere |.

Wisconsin: Voters getting confusing, misleading messages about election | Wisconsin Gazette

Wisconsin residents are receiving confusing messages by phone and in the mail about the election, according to the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. The organization said that just last week some people received a Wisconsin voter registration form in the mail with their name and address already filled in. They were told to mail the form in to their municipal clerk, even though it was already too late for mailed registrations to be processed. Other people have reported receiving robocalls telling them to bring a photo ID to vote. This happened after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the voter ID law would not be implemented in this election. 

Full Article: Voters getting confusing, misleading messages about Wisconsin election | Wisconsin Gaze | Wisconsin Gazette - Smart, independent and revealing. News, opinion and entertainment coverage.

Wisconsin: Lawmakers could restrict political robocalls | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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.”

Full Article: Public Investigator - Wisconsin lawmakers could restrict political robocalls.

Canada: New election law to crack down on robocalls, voter fraud | The Record

Canada’s election law is getting a major overhaul, aimed at making it tougher to play on the dirty-tricks side of the political game. A crackdown on automated “robocalls” and voter fraud are among the measures contained in the 242-page bill unveiled Tuesday by Democratic Reform minister Pierre Poilievre. And in what’s being widely viewed as a rebuke to Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand, the Conservatives have taken away his oversight of investigations into election-law abuse. The commissioner of elections, who conducts those probes, will now report to Canada’s director of public prosecutions, who has an arm’s-length relationship with government and political entities. “What we are doing is making sure that office has full independence,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in the Commons on Tuesday. Poilievre said the change gives Canada a new breed of political-crimes investigator — one with “sharper teeth, a longer reach and a freer hand.”

Full Article: New election law to crack down on robocalls, voter fraud.

National: Thousands of voting problem reports fielded across country | Detroit Free Press

Millions of Americans turned out to vote in Tuesday’s razor-thin presidential election, facing long lines, strict new identification requirements and, in some areas, polling stations without power. Voters in key states such as Florida and Virginia waited in long lines hours after polls closed Tuesday night to cast ballots, even as politicians and their supporters urged them not to give up despite the long delays. Candidates turned to social media to encourage voters through the long wait. “#StayInLine #StayInLine #StayInLine” Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin tweeted. The three states allow voters who were in line when polls closed to cast ballots. One Florida elections office mistakenly told voters in robocalls that the election was today.

Full Article: Thousands of voting problem reports fielded across country | Nation/World | Detroit Free Press | freep.com.

Canada: Elections Canada wants more people to cast ballots, but online voting is still out | The Globe and Mail

Elections Canada is trying to ease registration for young voters and is pushing for more civic education in elementary classrooms, according to the federal elections watchdog. But online voting is still out of the question. Marc Mayrand, Canada’s chief electoral officer, delivered the remarks in an online discussion with Globe and Mail readers Thursday night. “Online voting would certainly make voting more convenient for everyone, including young voters,” Mr. Mayrand wrote. “That being said, there are still issues surrounding the integrity, verifiability and secrecy of the vote.” As for the robocalls affair – alleged misleading automated calls during the 2011 federal election – Mr. Mayrand said the investigation continues but he couldn’t give a timeline.

Full Article: Elections Canada wants more people to cast ballots, but online voting is still out - The Globe and Mail.

Canada: U.S. voter fraud convict calls Canada’s robocall scandal ‘sophisticated’ | Montreal Gazette

A Republican political operative who spent three months in an American prison for making illegal political calls says that fraudulent calls in the last Canadian election are likely an American import. In his 2008 book How to Rig an Election, Allen Raymond tells the story of his 10-year political career, which ended abruptly when he was convicted of jamming the New Hampshire Democrats’ phone bank during a Senate election. When the FBI closed in, officials on the Republican National Committee cut off Raymond, and rather than face 25 years in prison, he co-operated with the investigation. Raymond, who now works in Washington as a lobbyist for a labour organization, suspects whoever made illegal voter-suppression calls in Canada in the last election likely learned their dirty tricks south of the border.

Full Article: U.S. voter fraud convict calls Canada's robocall scandal 'sophisticated'.

Canada: U.S. voter fraud convict calls Canada's robocall scandal 'sophisticated' | Montreal Gazette

A Republican political operative who spent three months in an American prison for making illegal political calls says that fraudulent calls in the last Canadian election are likely an American import. In his 2008 book How to Rig an Election, Allen Raymond tells the story of his 10-year political career, which ended abruptly when he was convicted of jamming the New Hampshire Democrats’ phone bank during a Senate election. When the FBI closed in, officials on the Republican National Committee cut off Raymond, and rather than face 25 years in prison, he co-operated with the investigation. Raymond, who now works in Washington as a lobbyist for a labour organization, suspects whoever made illegal voter-suppression calls in Canada in the last election likely learned their dirty tricks south of the border.

Full Article: U.S. voter fraud convict calls Canada's robocall scandal 'sophisticated'.

Canada: Poll shows Liberal, NDP supporters targeted for vote-suppression calls | canada.com

A poll being released Tuesday morning by the Council of Canadians shows a pattern of misleading election calls targeting opposition supporters in the seven ridings where the organization is seeking new elections. The poll, conducted April 13-19 by Ekos Research Associates, found that Liberal, NDP and Green party supporters in the seven ridings were more much more likely to report receiving a telephone call late in the election directing them to the wrong polling station than Conservative supporters, or opposition supporters in other ridings.

Full Article: Liberal, NDP supporters targeted for vote-suppression calls: pollster.

Editorials: There’s no democratic quick fix | Ottawa Citizen

As Canadians focus on cases of possible election fraud with the unfolding “robocalls” scandal, some people have suggested that Internet voting might be one way of stopping unscrupulous political activists from sending voters to non-existent polling stations. In fact, Internet voting is likely to increase, rather than decrease, electoral fraud. Since online voting requires passwords, there would be nothing to stop eligible voters from giving or selling their passwords to others. A few charismatic members of a community organization, or of a partisan political association, or of a family might then be able to control the votes of numerous citizens. 

Full Article: There's no democratic quick fix.

Canada: Vote suppression takes place in Canada too | peoplesworld

The United States and Mexico have not been the only places where the right wing has committed electoral fraud to win recent elections. There is evidence to suggest the Conservative Party of Canada used voter suppression schemes to help it win the 2011 elections. While ballot boxes didn’t actually go missing, the Conservatives may have flooded ridings (electoral districts) with automated, pre-recorded phone messages designed to disfranchise supporters of rival candidates. In the Ontario riding of Guelph, it is alleged by Elections Canada, the country’s election authority, that a Conservative operative using the alias “Pierre Poutine” made automated calls to suppress votes. During the 2011 elections, there was a tight race between the leading Conservative and Liberal Party candidates. False messages, supposedly from Elections Canada, sent hundreds of rival non-Conservative voters chasing non-existent polling stations on Election Day.

Full Article: Vote suppression takes place in Canada too » peoplesworld.

Ohio: Rogue political robocalls on the rise in Ohio | cleveland.com

Shadowy unregistered political groups — some of which claim to be “super PACs” — are placing apparently illegal robocalls to voters across Ohio and the country. Experts say the latest form of dirty politics has the power to sway elections, and the problem is escalating nationwide. A Cincinnati-area Democratic congressional primary candidate, David Krikorian, says his defeat at the ballot box on March 6 may have been caused by a robocall that went out to voters the prior weekend, urging them to vote for an unknown candidate who didn’t actively campaign, instead of Krikorian, who was endorsed by many Democratic groups. 

Full Article: Rogue political robocalls on the rise in Ohio | cleveland.com.

Ohio: Inquiry launched into PAC supporting little known candidate | USAToday

Federal prosecutors in southern Ohio are looking into whether a mysterious political action committee that helped nominate an unknown congressional candidate violated federal election laws. The “Victory Ohio Super PAC” made a series of automated phone calls supporting Waverly, Ohio truck driver William R. Smith in last week’s Democratic primary for Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District seat. The PAC did not disclose its activity to the Federal Election Commission, which it would be required to do if it spent more than $1,000, so there’s no record of who is responsible for the calls.

Full Article: Inquiry launched into PAC supporting mystery candidate.

Canada: Robocall scandal angers marchers | Winnipeg Free Press

More than 100 people rallied in Winnipeg Sunday to urge the House of Commons to get to the bottom of the robocall scandal. “This is something that affects everyone,” said 22-year-old Jonathan Ventura, carrying a polling station sign with arrows pointing in all directions. The student, who doesn’t belong to a political party, was joined by MPs past and present, pro-democracy, peace, labour and environmental group members at the corner of River Avenue and Osborne Street, carrying signs and waving Canadian flags. Similar demonstrations took place across Canada Sunday.

Full Article: Robocall scandal angers marchers - Winnipeg Free Press.

Canada: Elections Canada expands probe into fraudulent messages in 2011 vote | thestar.com

Elections Canada has extended its probe of phony election calls to include yet another Ontario riding as the watchdog agency launches an online complaint form to help field reports from concerned voters. Canadians who think “fraudulent calls interfered with their right to vote, or who have information about such calls” are being asked to pass along what they know to elections investigators, it says. Elections Canada has enlarged its “inquiry” centre to handle the high volume of phone calls and email traffic, agency spokesperson Diane Benson said. The agency has been flooded with reports from voters — 31,000 by last Friday — about harassing or misleading phone calls in the 2011 federal election.

Full Article: Canada News: Robocalls: Elections Canada expands probe into fraudulent messages in 2011 vote - thestar.com.

Canada: Elections Canada probing spending records of Conservative campaign in robocall scandal | canada.com

Elections Canada investigators probing the robocalls scandal are interviewing workers on the Conservative campaign in Guelph, Ont., and trying to determine why payments made to an Edmonton voice-broadcasting company were not declared in financial reports filed with the agency. In recent days, the agency has spoken to at least three workers from the campaign of Conservative candidate Marty Burke, including the official agent responsible for ensuring the campaign’s financial report was accurate. Elections Canada wants to know why the costs of automated calls the campaign has admitted sending out never appeared in the campaign’s expense report, as required by law. Andrew Prescott, the deputy campaign manager, said he is co-operating with the investigation and handing over bills he received from RackNine Inc. for a series of robocalls promoting Burke events during the election. The same company was used to transmit misleading Elections Canada calls on election day.

Full Article: Elections Canada probing spending records of Conservative campaign in robocall scandal.

Canada: Canadian Conservatives Acknowledge Vote Suppression in 2011 | WSJ.com

Canada’s Conservative government said Saturday there appeared to have been deliberate and illegal efforts to suppress votes in one constituency during last year’s national election, though a spokesman didn’t say whether the party now thought members, or those working for them, were responsible. Canada’s election agency is probing allegations that some Canadian voters were misled about the location of polling places by automated phone calls, or robocalls, during an election in May 2011. Opposition politicians have accused the Conservatives of an orchestrated attempt at suppressing votes, a charge the party has denied. The comments by Dean Del Mastro, a Conservative legislator and the main government spokesman for the controversy, marked the first time the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has acknowledged there may have been specific wrongdoing.

Full Article: Canadian Conservatives Acknowledge Vote Suppression in 2011 - WSJ.com.

Canada: Storm brews in Canada over election ‘robocalls’ | AFP

A probe into “robocalls” that misdirected Canadian voters to fake polling stations during last year’s election, won by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Tories, is casting suspicion on the results. It is not yet clear who was behind the automated telephone calls to voters in the town of Guelph, Ontario in spring 2011 that reportedly led to a chaotic scene at a polling station, and likely led some to give up on voting. The opposition parties, whose supporters were apparently targeted, pointed fingers at the Conservatives, but the Conservatives denied any involvement while hitting back at what they claimed was a “smear campaign.” Elections Canada, after being inundated with complaints, is now investigating the rogue calls, aided by the federal police, as new allegations are raised daily. At a press conference on Tuesday, outspoken New Democratic Party MP Pat Martin described the misleading pre-recorded calls claiming to be from Elections Canada as a “heinous affront to democracy.” “How is this different from a bunch of goons with clubs blocking the door to a voter station,” he said.

Full Article: Storm brews in Canada over election 'robocalls' - Yahoo! News.