Pols Like to Reach Out and Annoy Someone

States attetmpt to stop 'robo-calls,' but don't wait by the phone
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2008 4:00 PM CST
Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., talks on a cell phone in his hotel room on election night in Nashua, N.H., Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2008. McCain won the New Hampshire Republican primary,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Americans tend to get popular right before they vote, with their phones ringing as many as 25 times on election eves. Nineteen states have tried to cut down on “robo-calls,” and five more are considering laws this year, when hundreds of millions of them may be placed, USA Today reports. But few states with the laws enforce them, for fear of infringing on free speech.

Statutes vary from banning automated calls altogether to limiting the times of day when they're allowed, but success is spotty. And politicians keep pushing them because they cost only 2 to 4 cents, compared to 50 cents for direct mailings. "You can do 100,000 phone calls in an hour for $2,000," said one critic. "It's efficient and irresistible."