Political robo-calls are a pain in the neck

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The National Do Not Call Registry has been a godsend to families tired of answering pesky phone calls at dinner time from telemarketers trying to peddle unwanted goods and services. It’s a shame the registry doesn’t provide the same buffer against political robo-calls.

Practically anyone with a landline and a history of voting knows the experience all too well. The week leading up to Tuesday’s primary election seemed open season for political operatives to ring up and unload a quick pile of dirt on just about any candidate you could think of.

The political organizations’ exemption from the Do Not Call registry is hardly a coincidence. What election-minded member of Congress would have supported a bill designed to reduce the number of weapons in his or her campaign arsenal?

And to be fair, there are plenty of other issues related to the Do Not Call protection. The home page for the National Do Not Call Registry’s website, for example, offers this rather awkward word of warning:

Scammers have been making phone calls claiming to represent the National Do Not Call Registry. The calls claim to provide an opportunity to sign up for the Registry. These calls are not coming from the Registry or the Federal Trade Commission, and you should not respond to these calls.

So as well-intended as the registry is, it isn’t without flaws.

But the political robo-calls can be particularly onerous. Caller ID often indicates that the calls are coming from your hometown or even from a particular candidate when nothing could be further from the truth. Worse still, telemarketers have learned how to “spoof” Caller ID software so the calls can appear to originate from a government agency. It’s bad enough to receive an annoying robo-call soundbite, but imagine the fury if the recipient thinks the call is being paid for with tax dollars.

Perhaps the only bright spot for the forlorn voter is the ban on robo-calls to cellphones. Federal Communications Commission regulations prohibit all robo-calls to cellphones under any circumstances. If you’ve somehow received a robo-call on your cellphone, don’t hesitate to call the FCC.

No one misses the days of robo-callers offering special deals on Caribbean cruises or vinyl siding. It’s just a shame we can’t add political mudslingers to the list.