Monday, November 5, 2012

ANALYSIS: The Problem With Flake's Explanation Regarding Inaccurate Robocalls

(UPDATE, 5:45pm: The Flake campaign has sent to media a detailed refutation of the known instances of incorrect polling place information.  Most show that there are Republicans and Democrats with the same phone number (in their voter file) but different addresses.  This is a legitimate situation, using as an example where a child registers while they live at home with their parents, and later moves without correcting the phone number (not required).  

However, the examples also show that the Flake campaign could have - and/or should have - avoided many of these misleading robocalls by either inserting the targeted voter's name into the message, or by  having the computer check the phone number for address discrepancies and not call those.  

Both solutions would take additional programming or capabilities, but one (or, both) should have been incorporated given the serious consequences of directing voters to incorrect polling locations.

If you are interested in viewing the entire detailed response from the Flake campaign, please contact Arizona's Politics; the first example is reproduced at the bottom of this post.)

The Jeff Flake campaign has issued its response to the reports - and, the freshly-announced FBI investigation - regarding Flake robocalls informing voters of the wrong polling places.

To recap: Channel 12 aired a report yesterday, with very specific details about multiple calls with incorrect information given. 

This afternoon, the Arizona Democratic Party announced that it was requesting that the FBI and other law enforcement to investigate the robocalls.

The Flake campaign issued a more complete response than that theyhad provided to Channel 12 yesterday.  It is reproduced in full after the jump.  First, they blame the Carmona campaign for "grasping at straws", although there is no indication that the campaign had anything to do with veteran political reporter Brahm Resnik obtaining this story.  (The statement also blames Resnik for not providing them with "detailed information" prior to running the story.)

The Flake campaign then lists a few scenarios that could have led to the incorrect robocalls.

Analysis:  The Flake campaign's explanation is probably legit, but insufficient. IF you are going to give voters specific info like that, you are responsible for making sure that you are giving CORRECT info. 

To address the "same phone number" issue, they could have included THE VOTER'S NAME in the robo-call. To address the "voters had moved", they could have included THE ADDRESS. Likewise, to address the "adult children" scenarios.

The Flake campaign's experts and/or vendors KNEW (or should have known) of these possible issues. They chose to plow ahead and assume the risk, thus owning the inevitable fact that they would possibly disenfranchise voters. ANY voters, not just Democrats.
Inexcusable, and much worse than the inadvertent mistakes by the County regarding the wrong date en espanol.

Statement from Jeff Flake on KPNX 12 Story

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Jeff Flake
PHOENIX – Jeff Flake made the following statement in response to a story reported late Sunday night by Phoenix TV station KPNX 12:
“Given the news that Democratic-leaning polling firm PPP released a survey Sunday that had the Democratic candidate down by five points, we expected the Carmona campaign to start grasping at straws.  That began late Sunday night when KPNX aired a story on voter information calls sent out by my campaign.
“On Saturday we sent a targeted autodial call to over 120,000 Republicans, encouraging them to vote and informing them of their polling location.  The call clearly stated that it was from my campaign because it was intended for Republicans.  We received fewer than a dozen calls from voters with questions about the information provided, nearly all of which we were able to reconcile.  Some adult children were registered under their parents’ address.  In other cases, voters had moved but not updated their registration.
“Had KPNX provided us with detailed information on their report prior to airing it, we could have informed them that the Democrat they interviewed received thecall because, according the voting records, she had the same phone number as a Republican who lives in the precinct we provided information for. Again, this autodial was targeted to Republicans.  Any Democrats who received the call (which in all likelihood was a small number) did so because of errant information in the database owing to circumstanceslike those detailed above.”
Flake campaign's detailed response to complaints:

Response to Democratic Complaint
Democrat Complaint:
Name: Mary Crecco
Contact information: 480-614-5687
Address: 17212 N Scottsdale Rd Apt 2240, Scottsdale, AZ
Polling Location voter was sent to: Emmanuel Bible Church (note: there
is no polling place with this name, although there is an Emmanuel
Presbyterian Church, 3839 E Shea Blvd, Phoenix)
Correct Polling Location: Copper Canyon School, 17650 N 54th Street,
Scottsdale, AZ
Move recently: No.
Note: She still has the message recorded on her answering machine.
Mary Crecco’s phone number (480.614.5687) is shared with three
registered voters: Mary Crecco, Concettea Crecco, and Samantha Moore.
The campaign was calling to reach Samantha Moore who we show living
at 6633 E Greenway Parkway. Samantha is a Registered Republican as
of 4/17/09 in the Horizon precinct and the polling information provided on
the call was correct for that precinct.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

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