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Virginia GOP Begins Robo Calls

Tim Craig

Several residents of Northern Virginia report they received an automated call last night that critcizes the Democratic Party and Sen. Barack Obama for wasteful spending. The caller asks voters to fill out an absentee ballot, which will be mailed in the coming days.

On one of the calls, a women named Kate accused Democrats in Congress of approving billions of dollars in unnecessary projects.

"I can't stand the billions of dollars wasted by corrupt politicians on pet projects," Kate says. "You should get an absentee ballot in the mail this week....If you are like me and ... think the 'Bridge to Nowhere is an outrageous waste of taxpayer money, you should fill out your absentee ballot."

The Republican Party of Virginia paid for and authorized the automated message.

"We are looking for some absentee ballot voters." said Gerry Scimeca, a spokesman for the Virginia Republican Party. "We are looking for people, especially in Northern Virginia where you have a lot of people who work really long hours, and don't make it the polls and are prime candidates to request an absentee ballot."

By Tim Craig  |  September 23, 2008; 5:34 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Campaign Ads , Election 2008/President , John McCain , Mark Warner , Polls , Sarah Palin , Tim Craig  
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Next: Va. is Up for Grabs; Allen, Kaine Take Center Stage


I guess flat-out lying is the standard Republican campaign strategy this year from top (Palin claiming she killed the "Bridge to Nowhere" and opposed earmarks) to bottom (Gilmore claiming he left a balanced budget.) Now we get the RPV robocalling telling voters to blame Republican Ted Stevens' "Bridge to Nowhere" earmark on the Democrats, and to accuse them of "billions of dollars in wasteful spending" at a time when the Republican administration is trying to stampede them into approving $700 billion for a no-strings-attached bailout in a week!

Everyone hates the results of what the GOP did when they controlled everything, so they're reduced to pretending someone else did all that. It's hard to imagine any more compelling evidence that the GOP no longer has any record to run.

Posted by: Redshift | September 23, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Robo calls don't work. But pols continue to do them.

We are tracking them and working to give voters a way to opt out.

Here is the latest against Frank Wolf:

Shaun Dakin

Posted by: Shaun Dakin | September 23, 2008 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Also, if anyone has the audio of the call, please let me know as we have a robo call hall of shame with audio available.

Shaun Dakin

Posted by: Shaun Dakin | September 23, 2008 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Hey Redshift,

When are the Dems going to take responsibility??? How long is going to be the fault of the big bad republicans??? You all have been in control for 2 years now and have done NOTHING. In fact, the day after the 06 election, gas prices were 2.19 a gallon on average. This past summer they hit over 4 dollars. Yet that of course is still Republicans fault. Didn't you all campaing on change 2 years ago and how things would be different??? Are these the kind of "differences" we can expect from another "change" campaign??? Don't worry about responding since I know your answer will be; "Well Bush is the President, it stops with him". With Warner, is Gilmore also lying about Warner raising our taxes 1.4 billion when he promsied not to?? In addition is Gilmore also lying when he said Warner cried and cried about our financial future, but suddenly 3 weeks after raising our taxes, "found" a surplus????? Please......

Posted by: Jon | September 24, 2008 7:08 AM | Report abuse

I don’t see how this is possible without voter fraud. In Virginia, just to receive an absentee ballot, Individuals must first apply for the absentee ballot either in person or by mail, and sign a declaration as follows:

"I declare under felony penalty that, to the best of my knowledge, the facts contained in this application are true and correct, and that I have not, and will not vote in this election at any other place in Virginia or in any other state. Knowingly giving any untrue information in this document is a felony under Virginia law. The maximum penalty is a fine of $2500 and/or confinement for up to ten years. You also lose your right to vote.

If voter is applying in person, do not sign form until in the presence of a Registrar or Electoral Board Member."

Are you sure they weren’t sending out APPLICATIONS for absentee ballots?

Posted by: pfallsgirl | September 24, 2008 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Regardless of what they were sending, Virginia has some of the toughest laws about allowing voters to vote by absentee ballot. Personally, I think that the laws should be eased, but they are the laws and should be obeyed. It's going to be a mad house on election day. Plan for it an be patient. Your vote matters.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 24, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

I actually received one of the mailings today! It's from the Republican National Committee, and it has a Pro-Life orientation. However, the Absentee Ballot Application form inside is legitimate, and the address on the return envelope was correct for my county's Electoral Board.

Virginia Voters - be aware that if you decide to fill out the Application and send it in, you are COMMITTED to voting by Absentee Ballot. If you send the Application in and receive an Absentee Ballot, and later go to your regular polling location on Election Day to try to vote in person, you will be prohibited from doing so. Your only recourse at that point will be to go home, dig out the Absentee Ballot from that big pile of mail, fill it out, and personally deliver it to your Electoral Board Office before the polls close.

Good luck!

Posted by: pfallsgirl | September 24, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

We have the audio on our blog if you are interested.


Shaun Dakin

Posted by: Shaun Dakin | September 24, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse


Robocalls were found to have been quite successful in national elections in Australia in 2004 (when they were first used), but less so in 2007.

Out of interest, what makes you say they don't work? (or if anyone has any input, go right ahead)


Posted by: RJ | September 24, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse


Robo calls (auto dialers) have been in place since the 80's. Only in this decade has the cost decreased to the point that we have the epidemic that we have today.

Green and Gerber (Yale) have studied this (and other communication channels) for 10 years.

You can see reviews of their work and other robo call data points at the following link:

Green and Gerber's quote: "robo calls have a perfect record of never having worked.".


Posted by: Shaun Dakin | September 24, 2008 9:35 PM | Report abuse

It is incredible that we have such a huge number of Americans who accept, thrive on and love this vote stealing hate/lying crap. They make up stuff out of thin air, and will do anything to get their way.

The Republicans in my town won their election by claiming family and America first. When they took office, they held a prayer for our men in uniform. Then their first action was to fire the recreation director, a young mother with a US Marine husband in Iraq, because she wasn't one of them. The new supervisor's wife said "so what if he's a Marine?" These people are animals.

Posted by: Be Frank | September 24, 2008 9:49 PM | Report abuse

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