In my various adventures in social media, one of the many interesting folks I’ve come to know is activist professor Shaun Dakin, CEO and founder of the National Political Do Not Contact Registry. (Shaun also highlights some of the worlds coolest news on the Web as alter ego IsCool on Twitter.)
He’s on a crusade to stop politicians from abusing voters with pre-recorded phone calls. Now, these calls are actually illegal in California, but, as the San Diego Union-Tribune pointed out last year, the law is not enforced.
Early in my grassroots campaign, a political consultant advised me to use robo calls to identify likely supporters. Because they are cheap, you can blanket a huge number of voters on a shoestring.
But, as I’ve learned from Shaun, the calls don’t work. They are illegal (report them here), annoying, and unproductive. Most importantly, the hundreds of voters I’m interacting with every week on the trail are starving for real representation. That means legislators who they’ve met and who are open to talking with them.
Another shock early in my campaign was to find that elected officials simply don’t list their phone numbers. (And yet they want to robo call you?)
I’m going to be a legislator who listens – that’s change.
I fully expect to hear robo calls in the next few months. One of my opponents expects to be endorsed by Bill Clinton and Al Gore, and I’ve definitely had pre-recorded calls from the former president before.
But you won’t be hearing them from me. I will not use robo calls in this race.
Adriel Hampton is a journalist, Gov 2.0 and new media strategist, public servant, and licensed private investigator. He is running for U.S. Congress in the 2009 special election for California’s 10th District.