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Robocalls are spreading lies about voter safety

November 3, 2020, 9:28 PM UTC

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U.S. lawmakers are warning the public to be wary of automated robocalls telling them to “stay home and stay safe” on Election Day.

Nebraska secretary of state Robert Evnen said via Twitter that his office has received reports of anonymous phone calls intended to deceive people into believing that it isn’t safe to vote. Evnen countered the automated messages by saying, “Our polling places across the state are open,” and “our voters and our poll workers will be kept safe.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James also said in a tweet on Tuesday that she is “actively investigating robocalls allegedly spreading disinformation.” She added in a separate tweet that the U.S. “has a legacy of free and fair elections, and this election will be no different.” 

“Attempts to hinder voters from casting ballots by spreading misinformation is illegal and will not be tolerated,” James noted. 

Meanwhile, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said that she is “getting reports of multiple robocalls going to Flint residents that, due to long lines, they should vote tomorrow.” 

“Obviously this is FALSE and an effort to suppress the vote,” Nessel said. “No long lines and today is the last day to vote. Don’t believe the lies!”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also currently investigating a surge in robocalls that seem to be designed to suppress votes, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. The report said that the automated calls “don’t identify the caller or provide a number to call back, and it is unclear where they originate.”

Contrary to the automated messages’ insinuation that it is unsafe to vote, there have been no major reports of violence and civic unrest so far during Election Day. Earlier this week, CBS News reported that numerous cities are taking security precautions in the case that any conflict takes place.  

The FBI has previously warned about possible voter suppression efforts during the 2020 presidential election, calling it a “federal crime.” 

“Bad actors use various methods to spread disinformation about voting, such as social media platforms, texting, or peer-to-peer messaging applications on smartphones,” the FBI said in September. “These bad actors may provide misleading information about the time, manner, or place of voting.”

If people do receive questionable automated calls about the election, they should ask themselves if they can trust the information, the FBI said as a tip for concerned citizens. 

“Look for official notices from election offices and verify the information you found is accurate,” the FBI said.   

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