Election Day robocalls are voter suppression tactic, officials warn
CINCINNATI - FBI officials were investigating a series of robocalls across multiple states that purportedly urge people to “stay safe and stay home” on Election Day rather than vote, according to FOX News.
Homeland Security officials called the mysterious calls "a voter intimidation tactic," the network reported. Officials added that robocalls like this "happen every election cycle," and urged Americans to "keep calm, vote on."
The source of the calls remained unclear. They were reported in Republican-leaning states as well as Democratic ones.
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An estimated 10 million of the robocalls were placed over several weeks, across hundreds of U.S. zip codes, the Washington Post reported. The calls were flagged by YouMail, a company that sells robocall-blocking software.
The robocall tells people: “Time to stay home. Stay safe and stay home,” according to a recording.
Hashim Warren, in Greensboro, North Carolina, received the call at around 9:56 a.m. on Election Day, according to phone records he shared with Storyful. He posted recordings of the call on both Twitter and Soundcloud.
“Just got a robocall telling my to ‘stay safe and stay home’ on election day. Who do I report this to?” he tweeted.
Deen Freelon, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina Hussman School of Journalism and Media, also tweeted a recording of the call, staying that a friend had received it on Nov. 2.
“Now this isn’t technically mis- or disinformation, but it’s still pretty ominous. I only hope it’s transparent enough to be completely ineffective,” Freelon wrote.
State officials across the country warned voters to disregard the robocalls.
Nebraska’s Secretary of State Robert Evnen said Tuesday that his office had “received reports of anonymous phone calls to voters telling voters to ‘stay home and stay safe.’” Evnen’s office assured voters that polling places were open and that “voters and our poll workers will be kept safe.”
Officials in Michigan noted reports of robocalls specifically targeted at voters in Flint, a Democratic stronghold with a large African-American population. The state is critical in the race for the White House and has been targeted by both President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden in recent days.
Attorney General Dana Nessel described the calls as an “effort to suppress the vote.”
“Getting reports of multiple robocalls going to Flint residents that, due to long lines, they should vote tomorrow,” Nessel wrote on Twitter. “Obviously this is FALSE and an effort to suppress the vote. No long lines and today is the last day to vote. Don’t believe the lies. Have your voice heard!”
The Kansas Secretary of State also noted the reported robocalls telling voters to stay home and urged citizens to disregard the calls.
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This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.