Bill bans automated calls from campaigns

Measure would add political solicitations to list of banned calls

Posted: Monday, January 24, 2005

KENAI - Automated telephone campaign messages would be outlawed under legislation introduced by a Soldotna lawmaker.

The bill by Republican Rep. Kurt Olson would ban the used of recorded messages meant to influence voters about a candidate or proposition.

Automated messaging, common in recent campaigns, is relatively inexpensive compared to mass mailings.

Olson's bill seeks to amend state law covering telephone solicitation.

Current law already prohibits phone solicitation of anyone identified in the telephone directory as not wanting to receive such calls, or who has registered with the national do-not-call registry.

In addition, solicitors may not call people who have previously notified them or the businesses or charities for which they work that they do not want to receive those calls. Nor may solicitors originate a call advertising a product or service using automated or recorded messages.

Olson's amendment would add automated political solicitations to the list of prohibited calls. In doing so, it would neutralize another provision that currently exempts calls limited to soliciting the expression of ideas, opinions or votes.

Olson's measure would not affect live political calls.

The measure has been sent to the House State Affairs and Judiciary committees for hearings.

Olson said some automated telephone calling systems are especially devious.

"There are particular machines that will disconnect when they get a voice on the line," he said. "They target answering machines. They're extremely invasive."

During his own campaign last fall, automated phone calls were a major complaint from voters, Olson said. That may have been true in other races, he said, because he's seeing some support among his colleagues.

"So far, I haven't ran into anybody that has any problems with it," he said.

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