Source of robo-calls identified

April 30, 2008 6:28:52 PM PDT
A Washington D.C. based non-profit organization is taking responsibility for robo-calls with bad information about registering to vote that went out to North Carolinians.

"Women's Voices, Women Vote" says they mailed voter registration applications and sent out the calls to encourage people to register to vote. On their website, they said they "understand North Carolina's primary registration effort deadline was April 11" and they "apologize for any confusion" from the calls.

The head of the group apologized Wednesday, saying it was using the robocalls to boost voter turnout among unmarried women.

The "calls were our sincere attempt to encourage voter registration for those not registered for the general election," group president Page Gardner said in a news release. "We apologize for any confusion our calls may have caused."

But Attorney General Roy Cooper said Wednesday that Women's Voices, Women Vote broke the state law governing automated phone calls. No charges have been filed, but Cooper's office is seeking more information from the group.

Cooper's office said the Washington, D.C.-based organization complied with a demand from state attorneys to stop the phone calls.

Democracy North Carolina says the calls, reportedly from someone named Lamont Williams, target black neighborhoods and are designed to suppress black voter turnout.

The calls say that voters must fill out a packet mailed to them before they are able to vote.

But the traditional registration period has already ended for next Tuesday's primary. People can go to early voting locations statewide through Saturday and both register to vote and cast a ballot on the same day.

The automated call did not include information on the group or a way to contact the organization, both are which are required by state law. Violating the law is punishable by civil penalties of up to $5,000, Cooper's office said.

Democracy North Carolina's Bob Hall says the calls are "troubling and disturbing" and "cause for great alarm."

Women's Voices Women Vote says they are working with the NC State Board of Elections to resolve the confusion and working with mail officials to delay the delivery of the applications until after the primary.

Gardner said the group this week began mailing voter registration applications to more than 275,000 state residents. Group officials worked Wednesday to stop mail trucks carrying the applications in bulk from delivering them. Some election watchdog groups are worried many new voters may be confused about their registration status.

"Who's going to call those people back?" asked Joyce McCloy with the N.C. Coalition for Verified Voting. She urged affected voters to contact county election boards to confirm they are registered.

Click here to listen to the call.


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