State Rep. Julie Parrish says she was behind tens of thousands of automated phone calls to Oregon voters questioning their registration status. The West Linn Republican says she was considering legislation on the subject and wanted to find out whether a phone call to inactive voters would spur them to vote in the November election.
The calls generated complaints from nearly every county in the state.
Oregon political consultant Tim Trickey says his firm made the calls but he mistakenly attributed them at first to a business group.
Trickey's Northwest Market Research made robocalls to 73,000 Oregonians. He says the "do not call" list doesn't block automated calls involving political activity. The Oregon Secretary of State's office appearently wasn't informed about the project and said that those kind of calls are not made by government and that anyone getting such a call should ignor it . Trickey, who has been active in Republican campaigns, acknowledged that the calls incorrectly said they were sponsored by the Oregon Small Business Association. That group said it had nothing to do with the calls, and Trickey conceded that his firm wrongly named the group in its calls.
"Ultimately a big error was made on my part," said Trickey, adding that several groups had been involved in discussions about the robocalls and that he failed to confirm his impression that the small business association would sponsor the calls.
Parrish said she sought a sponsor to pay for the project, which she said was relatively inexpensive. Trickey said he would probably end up absorbing the cost of the calls.
Trickey said his firm sent the robocalls to 73,000 Oregonians listed as inactive voters who also had a phone number included with their voter registration records. He said they were able to reach about 42,000 households, although he acknowledged that many of the people who answered the calls could well have been active voters.
Voters can be listed as inactive if they if don't vote for five years or if it appears they have moved and have not responded to inquiries from election officials. Voters can check their status by visiting the Elections Division site at oregonvotes.org or by calling their county elections office.