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High-tech phones increase reach of issue groups

By: John Schroyer
September 22, 2012
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If you’ve gotten a phone call recently from a person who asked whether you think President Barack Obama’s policies are good or bad for the country, there’s a good chance it was from Americans for Prosperity.

AFP is a conservative group that focuses its calls on issues such as the $1.6 trillion national debt, the unemployment rate and health care. It has nearly 50 people making phone calls each day to voters around Colorado Springs, as part of an “educational effort” on national politics. Volunteers were at work Saturday.

State Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, has helped with the phone calls.

“This is an organization that’s trying to get people more involved in the process,” Waller said.

The messages may be different, but political organization of every shade are using techniques and technology similar to AFP to reach Pikes Peak region voters this season.

Thanks to new phone technology AFP installed this year, they’ve even done away with classic phone banking, where people congregate in an office to make calls.

Instead, volunteers for AFP can dial a phone number to their system, and they’ll be automatically re-routed to a phone number for a voter. That gives the group much more leeway in who can help, and when.

“People can just call up from their cars or wherever and they’ll be connected to voters’ phones,” said Ryan Parsell, one of AFP’s field coordinators.

Parsell said their work is panning out.

“People are coming out of the woodwork,” he said.

Parsell works out of AFP’s office in northeastern Colorado Springs.  It’s a huge 9,000-square-foot office that, even on a Saturday afternoon, seems empty.

But with volunteers calling from where ever they can reach a phone, office space is no longer an issue for telephonic campaigns, said Parsell.

The conservative organization, like many others active this fall, isn’t tied to a candidate or a party. While right-leaning,  AFP stays at arms-length from Republican Mitt Romney's campaign for president, Parsell said.

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