By: Michael Shapiro

You’ve received them. I’ve received them. I’ve even recorded and used them: those automated calls that emanate around election time. As annoying as they may be, they are a quick, efficient, and cost-effective way for a candidate or a resident to bring an issue or a candidacy to the public’s attention. A ban on automated calls amounts to greater incumbent protection as it is usually the incumbent officeholder who has the wherewithal and campaign donations to be able to send out glossy mailings, run radio and television commercials, and afford a sophisticated door-to-door operation. Candidates who take on incumbents have few tools at their disposal to get their message out, especially in areas where the local press is either nonexistent or “bought and paid for.” As a result, the automated call is one of very few equalizing forces in New Jersey politics, allowing all candidates to reach voters without a significant monetary expenditure. That said, restrictions on automated calls are necessary to curb abuse.


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