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Boston Globe Reports On My Anti-Political Robocalls Resolution

As I noted in my Brookline Parent column Waken Baby Syndrome back in October, I'm frustrated by the robocalls that come from political campaigns during election season. Like many others involved in politics, I tend to think that robocalls aren't really effective; in fact, anecdotal evidence suggests that they harm political candidates rather than help them.

I would very much like to see them banned, and I'm not alone. The Citizens for Civil Discourse, a non-partisan, non-profit organization, is trying to encourage political campaigns to stop using robocalls with a National Political Do Not Call Registry. Some states have passed laws limiting the use of political robocalls, and in 2008, Senator Diane Feinstein of California introduced federal legislation that would limit political robocalls, but it went nowhere.

It occurred to me that I could take a stand on this issue as well.

As a Brookline resident and an elected member of Brookline Town Meeting, I've introduced an article for Town Meeting to consider when we convene again in May. The article, "A Resolution Against the Use of Robocalls in Political Campaigns," would ask our representatives and senators in the Massachusetts General Court and the United States Congress to introduce and/or support legislation banning the combined use of computerized autodialers and pre-recorded messages in political campaigns. Brookline has a long tradition of passing resolution on national issues, and frankly, this is one national issue that directly affects the quality of life of the residents of our town.

In fact, Brookline residents are so concerned with this issue that I managed to get three times the number of signatures needed to introduce the article at Town Meeting. Many Brookline voters, when they heard of my petition, grabbed for a pen and asked if there was any way they could sign twice.

We filed the article with the Selectmen's Office yesterday morning, and by yesterday afternoon, the Boston Globe's website had already published an article about it: Brookline Town Meeting to vote on resolution against political robocalls. My understanding is that the article will appear in the print version of the Globe West section on Thursday.

The warrant closes on Thursday at noon; I'll be interested in seeing what other issues Town Meeting will be debating come the spring.

Comments

I have considered them. It seems to me that if the federal government can institute a do not call list for telemarketers, then they also have the right to institute a general do not call list for everyone else, including political campaigns.

Also, in the description of the warrant article, I point out that the resolution would not prohibit political campaigns from having volunteers call people up and read the exact same message over the phone. But I'd rather have a person call me than an automated dialer.
Um, you did see that this is a resolution, not a bylaw?
And in fact, Town Counsel did review an earlier version, and made some suggested changes, which I adopted.
Exactly.

And even if this resolution passes but nothing more comes of it in the higher legislatures, it works to continue to send the message to political candidates that we'd really rather they stop using robocalls.

And again, this is a resolution asking the appropriate legislators to consider legislation. It would not change the bylaws of the town one iota.
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