The investigation into the mysterious public polling agency called Independent Voter Research continues. The organization has conducted several robocalls in various states. Some voters have responded with confusion and anger over the volume of calls they receive on a daily basis.
A. Michael Froomkin, professor at the University of Miami School of Law, wrote a post on his blog, Discourse.net, about his experiences with Independent Voter Research. In it, he goes into detail about receiving robocalls from the same phone number every day for over a week. Each time, the female automated voice asked him the same questions.
“What kind of poll calls the same person every day?” Froomkin queried. “Is it some weird new type of tracking poll where they are looking to see if a given fixed population changes its views over time? Some unfathomable scam, looking for old folks to rip off? Some polling outfit ripping off some campaign? Some campaign with more money than sense?”
Several complaints on various online forums have expressed similar frustrations. People have described being called up to three or four times a day from one of the numbers associated with Independent Voter Research. It sounds like what one would expect from debt collectors. Some of the complaints mentioned that once the person finally answered the phone, and took the survey, the calls stopped.
This, however, was not the case for everyone. Mr. Froomkin said he answered the phone every time, took the same short survey, and still received calls from Independent Voter Research. He mentioned calling the 866 contact number provided at the end of the survey twice on two different occasions. He received an automated message both times.
When asked when the calls finally stopped, Mr. Froomkin replied, “I went out of town for a week. My wife hangs up on those things. By the time I came back, they’d given up.”
Mr. Froomkin added that, while his field of expertise is not in election nor campaign finance law, this would not ordinarily be considered to be “actionable fraud” by legal experts if the calls ended up not originating from Independent Voter Research. He said that since there doesn’t seem to be an attempt to gain anything of value– a few minutes of a person’s time generally not considered a ‘thing of value’ –it wouldn’t usually qualify as fraud.
Back in February, Rolling Stone uncovered a possible connection between Independent Voter Research and the Mitt Romney campaign. Volunteers for the campaign conducted calls from home using the MyMitt social networking tool. Suspicions were raised when the script given to volunteers was identical to the one used in calls from Independent Voter Research.
Volunteers did not identify who they were in the initial script nor inform likely GOP voters in Michigan that they were calling on behalf of the Romney campaign. However, callers did provide the same 866 contact number given by Independent Voter Research. When asked to comment on it, Romney’s press secretary, Andrea Saul, stated that the wrong file had been “inadvertently uploaded.”
The latest complaints describe a fully automated robocall from Independent Voter Research. The firm’s methods have changed to some degree, but voters are just as confused and angry over receiving these cryptic calls. The unknown polling firm has also expanded its outreach. The calls appear to primarily be conducted in campaign battleground states, including Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.
Laws and statutes regarding solicitation over the phone, especially for campaign and polling purposes, vary from state-to-state. Many states have laws that require the caller to identify themselves and the organization they are with. In Florida, there is a statute that specifically prohibits callers from stating that the call is from an entity that doesn’t exist.
Title IX, Chapter 106.147, paragraph 1(d) of the 2012 Florida Statutes states:
“No telephone call shall state or imply that the caller represents a nonexistent person or organization.”
The willful violation of this provision is considered a first degree misdemeanor. It is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment of no more than a year. That being said, it is unlikely anyone will be prosecuted.
No one has been able to confirm the existence of Independent Voter Research. There is very little evidence to support the claim it is a real polling agency. It has no website nor any online presence. The firm’s contact information is not listed. The only connection there is to the mysterious organization is an 866 number that only connects callers to an automated message.
Despite the inability to locate Independent Voter Research, no one has been able to conclusively link it to a campaign. The Mitt Romney campaign was contacted for comment, but it has yet to respond. IVN’s contributors will keep readers updated on any developments in this story.
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Every time we get one of these calls, we are a different gender, different age, different racial group and answer whether we will be voting differently. We also indicate either voting for a Republican President and Democratic Senator or vise versa. If they're for real, we're really screwing up their polling, but we're having a good laugh while we're doing it!
Did not take long, but this seems to be the same company. At least three aspects kept coming up the same here.
Independent Voter Research; Altria who owns Phillip Morris USA.
This seems by all accounts to be the people every one is looking for.
Duane Dichiara IVN investigated the matter because several people have confused the Independent Voter Research polling group with the us, the Independent Voter Network. As a result, we have received numerous complaints. When we tried to find out who it was, we couldn't. So we are looking into it.
Funny but, I'm a registered Republican and I've gotten at least 4 calls from the Obummer campaign. I just tell them to drop dead, hell no I wont vote for him and hang up.
Wow I didn't know IVN had an investigatory arm. Come on guys... there is a ton of things we can talk about on here (assuming IVN starts responding to questions)... this is weak.
Somebody could be trying to frame the Romney campaign - annoying pollsters- the Chicago way. Then again, who cares?
Nope. Don't trust any media. His was just the first one on the list. You can find it in CNN, CBS, ABC, etc. Pick whatever one you like...they will all be screwed to the candidate of their liking. The point is that polling companies are just as trust worthy as politicians...and media now that you bring it up.
You think so hua http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/MEFTRepublicanParty/
Don't trust polls, polling firms, or politicians. Even the ones you're supposed to rely on can be swayed with threats. Suddenly after the DOJ started down the lawsuit path, Gallup started showing more Obama-friendly numbers. Want more favorable numbers? Make more calls in the state with the color of your choice. It's crap.
are any of these calls really linked to anyone other than someone using the election as an excuse to pull a scam ?? come on, there are some people who will give money to anything , which is what the caller machine group is counting on .. and since they do not say if it is a charity or election donation ,,, it is whatever the person thinks the caller is calling about .
I just get annoyed by these phone calls from people claiming to be taking a "poll" and then they ask really slanted questions and follow up by asking for a donation by credit card. I dont think these firms are legit. I only want to be surveyed by Gallup, Zogby, Reuters, or a "real" poll. But they never call me. And if they did, they would never ask for money.
So? I'm getting mail for the first to from Democrats and from Michele Obama to be specific. Which means to me they are targeting Republican women because I've never given anyone the inclination I am anything but a Republican voter.
It wouldn't surprise me if it were Romney, a Republican consulting firm, a Democrat consulting firm, or any political operation ... that's just what they do; frustrating part is that even if it is uncovered to be an illegal operation ... no one will probably care.