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Republican robocall menace irks voters

Desperate measures

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The Republican Party has been accused of underhand telephone marketing tricks in the run-up to today's US mid-term elections.

Voters across the US (Pennsylvania and New Hampshire examples here and here) have been receiving calls from auto-dialers featuring pre-recorded messages that initially suggest the call is from a Democrat candidate. I

If the recipient hangs up they receive repeated calls. It's only if voters listen to the end of the message that they realise the call has been made on behalf of the local Republican congressional candidate. Democrat candidates, such as Melissa Bean in Illinois, have been obliged to post statements clarifying that the annoying calls are nothing to do with them.

The tactic is a violation of Federal rules that require a caller to be explained at the beginning of such messages. Some of the recipients of the calls are doubly aggrieved because they've submitted their names to national "Do Not Call" registers, so that they shouldn't have to sit through telemarketing calls of any kind.

The $2.1m telemarketing campaign was run by Conquest Communications Group on behalf on the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Challenged about the legality of the calls, particularly those to people on the "Do Not Call" registry, a Committee spokesman said that was a "complicated legal question that's not going to get adjudicated this weekend". ®

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