Political Robocall Laws: What You Should Know Before You Send

DISCLAIMER:  We are not attorneys and this article should not be construed as legal advice.  You should not act or rely on any information on this website without seeking the advice of a competent attorney.  Political robocall laws and regulations are constantly changing.

General Summary of Robocall Laws:

You can review a quick summary of the political robocall laws directly from the Federal Communications Commission website here.

Political campaign robocalls operate under separate and distinct regulations compared to other telemarketing calls.  For example, political robocalls are exempt from the United States Do Not Call Registry.  That means politicians can send you robocalls even though you are on the Do Not Call list.  You can see a state-by-state summary of political robocall laws in the United States here.

Sending robocalls is a highly regulated industry and those sending robocalls need to comply with a variety of state and federal laws and regulations.  Sending pre-recorded messages to consumers selling a product or service without written permission is against the law.

With few exceptions, sending robocalls to cell phones is also against the law.  The law prohibits anyone from making robocalls to any cell phone without obtaining consent.  Political robocalls to landline phones do not require prior approval.

Federal Robocall Laws Requires Two Things:

All robocalls, even if they are for political purposes, have two primary Federal laws that must be followed to be considered legal.

1.  According to Federal regulations, any telephone call that uses pre-recorded messages is required to disclose who is making the call.

2.  Also, a telephone number or address has to be included so that the person sending the robocall can be contacted.

The FCC’s sister agency, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also provides a summary of laws that are aimed at protecting consumers, along with an explanation of what robocalls are permitted.  You can see the FTC’s comments here:

Here is a comprehensive explanation on how businesses and organizations can comply with the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule:

In general, the FTC says “informational” calls are permitted.  For example, informational calls may provide you updates on schedules, airline cancellations, college or school reminders or announcements on delays or closings, and such things as pharmaceutical refill reminders.  Other permitted calls are most political campaign robocalls, calls from certain health care providers, banks, telephone carriers and some charities.

It is legal to send recorded messages to anyone who has given you written permission to call them.

Political Robocall Laws

Political robocalls have less stringent guidelines than some other types of telemarketing robocalls that are sent by businesses and various other organizations.  Telemarketing, for example, has a strict set of laws that make it much more difficult to send pre-recorded messages.  Robocall laws exist at both the national and state level.  Often the states have more advanced laws that contain additional restrictions and guidance.

Individual State Political Robocall Laws

A number of states have come up with their own unique, and usually more stringent, laws to regulate robocalls.  Since each state may have its own version of robocall law, it makes it difficult for many national campaigns that want to send out robocalls to many different states.  Certain states have laws that regulate or even prohibit the use of political robocalls.  Some states only allow the robocall if the candidate records a disclosure that they are the ones that paid for the call.  This helps to show that the call is legitimate and actually paid for by that candidate’s campaign.

Here are a few states that have laws specific to their state:

California Robocall Regulations

California has strict regulations, however, Terrie Prosper, a spokesperson for the California Public Utilities Commission was recently quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying, political robocalls originating within the state, and without a live operator, are permissible only when “a consumer has consented to receiving robocalls from a candidate or political party.”  However, “A call originating outside of California,” she said, “does not have to meet California’s law.”

Our automated dialing system is outside of the State of California, and therefore, is legally compliant.  Candidates should understand that ONLY calls to landlines are legal.  Federal law prohibits robocalls to cell or mobile numbers.

You can read the Los Angeles Times article here.

Indiana Robocalls

Indiana’s law does not differ greatly from the Federal Law.  However, in Indiana when making a robocall, a live person needs to provide an introduction before any pre-recorded message plays.

At this point, the person receiving the call needs to decide if they want to continue with the call.  If they decide that they do not want to continue, the call must end and the pre-recorded message will not be played.  If they do want to continue, the pre-recorded message will be played in full so that that they can gain further information on the topic that is presented.  For example, if it is a political robocall being played and the listener decides he/she wants to hear the message then they may gain some information as to how the candidate feels on certain topics related to the upcoming election.

Missouri Robocalls

In 2008, Missouri decided to step up the enforcement of the federal laws from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991.  Although they did not add additional laws to the Federal Law, the Missouri Attorney General decided that the federal laws were not being enforced like they should.  Calls are strictly required to include information about who the robocall is coming from. Contact information for the company or campaign needed to be provided.  This already existed with the Federal laws but up until recently was not rigidly enforced.

A Word to the Wise

The last thing any candidate wants to do is break the law.

If done right, robocalls can be an effective way to bolster political support.  A properly conducted and well planned robocall campaign can be just the thing to push you over the top on election day.  But you have to be careful because a poorly executed robocall campaign can hurt your chances because it can annoy or turn off potential voters.  That’s why working with an experienced company like Monarch Broadcast Messaging can help you with this critical campaign project.

For more information on how we can help you comply with your political robocall laws, give us a call at 888-387-8636 and we’ll give you some ideas on how you can set up an effective campaign.  Or click here to go to our political robocall product page here.