Facing South has come across an interesting new piece of information in the case of the deceptive North Carolina robo-calls that are drawing outrage from the State Board of Elections and voting rights advocates.
As we reported, the N.C. calls are similar to those received by voters in Virginia before that state's February primaries, both in content and timing.
When election officials in Virginia began receiving reports about calls in their state, they thought they were a possible identity theft scheme, and forwarded the case to police.
I contacted the Virginia State Police, and they pointed me to a recent press release with the outcome of their investigation: they determined that the robo-calls in Virgina came from Women's Voices Women Vote, a D.C.-based non-profit with a mission of "improving unmarried women's participation in the electorate and policy process."
Here's the press release from the Virginia State Police:
For Immediate Release: February 6, 2008
STATE POLICE IDENTIFY SOURCE OF MASS VOTER REGISTRATION MAILINGS TO VIRGINIA HOUSEHOLDS
RICHMOND - Virginia State Police special agents have tracked down and identified the source of the mass mailing of voter registration applications to Virginia households across the Commonwealth.
The investigation was initiated Thursday (Feb. 7, 2008) after State Police was contacted by the State Board of Elections. On Wednesday and Thursday of this week, Virginia citizens began receiving recorded phone messages notifying them that a voter registration packet would be arriving in the mail. The individuals were then advised to complete, sign and mail in the application. Concerned because the messages did not specify who or where the packets were coming from, many of the citizens contacted their local registrar to find out if it was legitimate.
The investigation revealed that the phone calls and packets were generated by Women's Voices Women Vote, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based out of Washington, DC. The organization is targeting more than 228,000 unmarried women in Virginia and 22 other states in an effort to increase voter registration and participation.
The voter registration application contained in the packet is a legitimate voter registration form commonly accepted by the State Board of Elections. The organization provided prepaid envelopes addressed to the State Board of Elections.
I called Women's Voices Women Vote this afternoon, and they confirmed that they did indeed do a "pre-call" campaign to a list of prospective voters in Virginia in February, informing them that voter registration was coming in the mail, just as the police found.
They did not have immediately available a transcript of the calls their organization made, which were "handled by a vendor."
Just to be clear: As this time, there is no evidence linking the calls in Virginia that came from Women's Voices Women Vote this past February, to similar calls happening now in North Carolina. The person I spoke to at Women's Voices was not able to comment on any voter outreach calls they were making in North Carolina at this time.