On November 3rd, many Americans received robocalls advising the listener to “stay safe and stay home”. Apparently, this robocall campaign has been running for a year already, and various U.S. agencies are investigating, including the FBI. Although the robocall does not mention voting, “thousands or tens of thousands” of people received the call on Election Day. The increased numbers of calls has led some people to believe the robocall campaign was designed to suppress votes.
Audio of the calls, which RoboKiller shared with Reuters, features a synthetic female voice saying: “Hello. This is just a test call. Time to stay home. Stay safe and stay home.” Porter said the call had been placed millions of times in the past 11 months or so but had on Tuesday shot up to No. 5 or No. 6 in the list of top spam calls.
“This robocall is being sent at a very high volume,” she said.Reuters
There are several other robocall campaigns that are believed to be efforts to suppress the vote. In Michigan, for example, residents of Flint received robocalls telling them to “vote tomorrow” due to the long lines at the polls. This situation prompted Michigan’s Attorney General to warn Michigan voters that the information they were receiving was false.
Likewise, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson issued a statement warning Flint residents that they were receiving false information about when to vote:
“We received reports that an unknown party is purposefully spreading misinformation via robocalls in Flint in an attempt to confuse voters there, and I want to ensure everyone who plans to vote in person understands they must do so — or be in line to do so — by 8 p.m. today. Lines in the area and across the state are minimal and moving quickly, and Michigan voters can feel confident that leaders across state and local government are vigilant against these kinds of attacks on their voting rights and attempts at voter suppression, and we will be working quickly all day to stamp out any misinformation aimed at preventing people from exercising their right to vote.”Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson
Dearborn residents were sent disinformation text messages claiming there were technical issues at the polls. This prompted Nessel to send out additional warnings:
Apparently, USTelecom claims that the calls were “possibly coming from Europe.”
Attempts to suppress voting in Michigan has been a significant problem in the months leading up to the 2020 Election. Jack Burkman, 54, of Virginia and Jacob Wohl, 22, of California were charged with election law and conspiracy crimes. Known Republican operatives, Burkman and Wohl are alleged to have used robocalls to target voters in Detroit. In this case, the robocalls were claiming that ‘mail-in voting’ would allow police to locate people with outstanding warrants or unpaid debts. Additionally, the robocall suggested that the CDC would force voters to receive vaccines:
“The CDC is even pushing to give preference for mail in voting to track people for mandatory vaccines,” the recording said, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Don’t be (inaudible) into giving your private information to the man. Stay safe, and beware of vote by mail.”The Detroit News