Who is Lamont Williams?
That’s the question on many a blogger’s mind since the story about the direct mail and illegal robo-call voter-registration drive broke a couple of weeks ago in North Carolina.
African-American voters in North Carolina received automated, anonymous phone calls from a mysterious man named Lamont Williams a week ago. The voice informed them that they would be receiving a voter-registration packet in the mail, and it asked them to sign and return it.
“Hello, this is Lamont Williams. In the next few days, you will receive a voter registration packet in the mail. All you need to do is sign it, date it and return your application. Then you will be able to vote and make your voice heard. Please return the voter registration form when it arrives. Thank you.”
The only problem is that the mail-in voter-registration deadline in North Carolina had passed, and some of the call’s recipients had already registered.
The North Carolina attorney general’s office is investigating the incident, which it says may be illegal because the calls didn’t identify their sponsors and offer recipients a way to opt out.
A D.C.-based voter-registration group called Women’s Voices, Women Vote was responsible for the campaign, and has apologized for confusing voters.
The anonymous calls using the unknown male persona look especially strange since the voter-registration group has, in the past, used high-profile celebrities to advance their cause. And everything the group has said about its mission before this week has indicated that it exclusively targets unmarried women.
Consider this price list (.pdf), found on the group’s website, in which WVWV offers to sell its database. “WVWV targets only unmarried women, including divorced or widowed women,” the document reads. “WVWV has used state-of-the-art technology and data-mining and analysis techniques in order to accurately identify these women and encourage them to register and turn out to vote.”
There’s nothing in there, or anywhere else on its website, about the group expanding to target African-American men.
The group said Thursday that Lamont Williams is the real name of the voice performer they hired for the 20-second recording. Threat Level searched the top voice talent agencies with online databases, and didn’t find Mr. Williams.