Phoning for Votes

By: Stan Torgerson
By: Stan Torgerson

The political calls ranged from President Bush to Charlton Heston to anonymous voices asking for your vote. Some examples included the President asking Mississippi voters to support Haley Barbour, Amy tuck and the "Republican team". Other candidates used this method, as well.

Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Nielsen Cochran, who represents the central district of the state, was one of the officials who lobbied for the "Do Not Call" law, which allows residents to sign up if they don't want unsolicited calls.

Cochran said Friday that political calls are a gray area. There is a paragraph in the law that exempts political candidates from being prohibited to call. He said it was the intent of the legislature to exempt political calls.

But part of the gray area is a paragraph that allows such calls if the caller has had a previous relationship with the person called. Does that mean an incumbent has, in effect, had such a relationship and therefore can call while a candidate who has not held office does not have a previous relationship with the called party and therefore is prohibited from calling?

It's just not clear to the candidates or to the public. Cochran said the PSC plans to go back to the legislature in January and ask that the law be reworded so that there is good, clear language as to how it should be interpreted.


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