Shady robocalls try to keep Michigan and Iowa voters at home

Officials in major battlefield states say they are investigating shady robocalls warning residents to stay home on election day.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Tuesday morning her office had received “reports of several robocalls to residents of Flint who, due to long queues, are expected to vote tomorrow” – it that is, the day after the elections, when the polling stations would be closed. The false statements, Nessel said, were an attempt to “suppress the vote.”

And in Iowa, the Register of Monks reported that the Secretary of State’s office had contacted the FBI about calls asking swing state voters to “stay home, stay safe, and not vote.” The Federal Communications Commission said it was also aware of reports of deceptive calls.

In Nebraska, state officials have received reports of mass automated calls asking residents of the state to “stay home,” although there was no specific message about the election. and that it is not clear whether voters, in this case, were the target.

John Scott-Railton, a researcher at the University of Toronto’s CitizenLab, obtained a transcript of one of the calls, in which a robotic voice tells the Nebraskans, “This is just a test call. It’s time to stay home. Stay safe and stay home. Data provided by spam blocker Robokiller shows that the same message has been around since at least December 2019, with around 287 million transmissions in all 50 states. In September, the Canadian newspaper Ottawa Matters reported that police were investigating similar calls to phones in Canada and Australia, as well as the United States.

Anonymous robotic calls that propagate election misinformation have long been a voter suppression tactic. Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman have been charged with conspiracy to commit an election violation and telecommunications fraud in Michigan and Ohio in connection with robocalls allegedly targeting minority voters in both states with false information on the mail ballots.

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