North Carolina: Attorney General Cooper Wins $100,000 from Voter Group for Robo Calls
By North Carolina Department of Justice
October 22, 2008
Some voters confused by Women's Voices Women Vote robo calls
A group that made political telemarketing calls that did not comply with North Carolina law has agreed to pay $100,000 in penalties and is barred from operating in the state before the November election, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Wednesday.
The group, Women's Voices Women Vote, began calling people in North Carolina shortly before the May primary election. The prerecorded calls, also known as robo calls, told people that they would soon receive voter registration forms in the mail, which they should fill out and submit. But the deadline to register by mail had passed, and some call recipients already were registered to vote, causing confusion.
Political robo calls are prerecorded telephone calls made by candidates, campaigns and advocacy groups using automated dialers. Under state law, political campaigns and non-profits making prerecorded calls must identify who is making the call, the nature of the call, and provide contact information for the group that makes the call.
The calls did not identify Women's Voices Women Vote or tell how to contact them, so people who were confused by the robo calls were not able to ask for clarification.
"My office takes quick action against robo calls that don't strictly
follow the law," Cooper said. "People who don't want these calls
shouldn't get them at all. The law needs to be stronger so that the Do
Not Call Registry applies to political robo callers just like any other
Cooper launched an investigation in April into calls made by Women's
Voices Women Vote and demanded that the group stop breaking state law.
Women's Voices Women Vote today agreed to pay $100,000 in civil
penalties for its prerecorded calls to North Carolina residents. The
money will go to North Carolina schools.
Under today's settlement agreement, Women's Voices Women Vote agrees
not to resume any voter registration, education, turnout or similar
activities in the state until after the November 4 election. Any
future voter activities by the organization in North Carolina must
comply with state law and the group would have to provide the Attorney
General's Office with a written description of how it would ensure its
compliance with the law.
With Election Day just weeks away and early voting already underway,
North Carolinians are receiving political robo calls from other groups
and campaigns. Earlier this year Cooper urged political parties and
candidates to honor the Do Not Call Registry and reminded them to abide
by state law that requires disclosures on robo calls.
People who join the Registry are protected from commercial calls by
both state and federal laws, but those laws currently exclude political
robo calls. Cooper had asked lawmakers to include political robo calls
in the Do Not Call legislation.
"Telemarketers that break our laws will face action from my office,
whether they're calling to pitch you a product or to win your vote,"
Cooper said. "If you get illegal telemarketing calls, let my office
know about it."
To report telemarketers or candidates that make calls unlawfully,
consumers can call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll free within the state or
download a consumer complaint form at www.ncdoj.gov.
To check on their voter registration status, people can visit the state
Board of Elections web site at
http://www.sboe.state.nc.us/VoterLookup.aspx or contact their local
county board of elections by telephone.
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