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October 27, 2010

Dialing-for-votes: Robocalls in Maryland

* Update: Here's the story, published Thursday.

Have you had the misfortune of picking up an "unknown" call in the past few weeks? The Sun is seeking true stories of robocalls you've received this political season.

In September, Sarah Palin recorded an electronic message urging voters to choose newcomer Brian Murphy in the Republican gubernatorial primary. The automated voices of Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown should be familiar to many voters by now, as the pair tries to fend off a challenge from Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and running mate Mary Kane.

And earlier this year, residents in Maryland's easternmost congressional district, where Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil is now in a tough fight with Republican challenger Andy Harris, were flooded with Republican robos on national health care reform.

Who is robo-calling you? Share your stories below.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 1:22 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Candidate Watch 2010


I received multiple robocalls from a Tea-Party affiliated group called "Americans For Prosperity" asking that I attend a rally that was held last Monday in White Marsh. The name that popped up on my Caller ID was "William Loffer". I don't know how I ended up on their list since I'm not a registered Republican, nor have I ever expressed an interest in Tea Party activities.

@MCG, the lists used are generated from mathmatical models that have very little to so with your voter registration. If you live in an area like White Marsh, where there is traditionally a large Republican vote, and you are a white male, Republicans make the assumption that you are a Republican voter. Many of the calls people get are aimed at a particular audience. For example, both parties try to get infrequent voters who live in precients that are favorable to their party. So if you are an infrequent voter you are more likely to get more calls and more soliciatations. Asking for an absentee ballot will also increase the likelihood that you will be heavily saturated with calls. A reliable voter, registered with one party or another, who votes in every primary and general election on the other hand, gets very few calls (except in a contested primary).

Art Helton is doing some negative calls in District 34 for State Senate and his robocall is showing up as "MD Senate District..." Kind of interesting how you can manipulate the caller ID to make the person more willing to pick up the call.


I live in Baltimore City and have voted in every election since I moved here in 2005- so it makes even less sense that I would be targeted. But thanks for explaining the methodology.

I will not vote for a candidate who robocalls. I may not vote for their opponent but I will not vote for the candidate.

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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