Election officials in several states, including the critically important battleground state of Michigan, are reporting robocalls full of misinformation about how to vote — and they’re warning voters to ignore them.
Experts are always on edge about last-minute hijinks that seek to discourage certain people from voting. But those concerns are even greater this Election Day. That’s both because the rules about how to vote during a pandemic are indeed complicated and because misinformation has been running more and more rampant on online platforms.
It is a very old technology — the robocall — that seems to be causing problems so far, though. And it’s so alarming that the FBI is investigating the calls, according to ABC News.
Michigan officials on Tuesday said they had received reports of misleading phone calls in at least the city of Flint, a heavily Black city. The calls tell Flint residents that they should vote on Wednesday, not Tuesday, because of long lines at the polls.
Getting reports of multiple robocalls going to Flint residents that, due to long lines, they should vote tomorrow.— Dana Nessel (@dananessel) November 3, 2020
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! RT PLS.
Alert— Jocelyn Benson (@JocelynBenson) November 3, 2020
We received reports that an unknown party is purposefully spreading misinformation via robocalls in Flint in an attempt to confuse voters there. I want to ensure everyone who plans to vote in person understands you *must be in line to do so by 8 p.m. today.* (1/3)
It’s not immediately clear where the calls are coming from or what exactly they say. Michigan is a state that Donald Trump won in 2016 but which Joe Biden is favored to flip based on current polls.
Just yesterday, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said there were also concerns about “trick” text messages being sent to voters in the Michigan city of Dearborn.
Unfortunately, Michigan isn’t alone in needing to worry about last-minute misinformation that can mislead voters.
In Nebraska, which has one competitive congressional district, the secretary of state said on Tuesday that he had received reports of anonymous calls “telling voters to ‘stay home and stay safe.’”
The Secretary of State Office has received reports of anonymous phone calls to voters telling voters to “stay home and stay safe.”— NE Secretary of State Robert Evnen (@NEvnen) November 3, 2020
Our polling places across the state are open. Our voters and our poll workers will be kept safe.
“Elections matter and your vote counts." pic.twitter.com/XdKvtKWwWT
The Des Moines Register reported calls with similar language being made in Iowa and said the matter has been referred to the FBI. Officials in Kansas — which is not a politically competitive state at the presidential level — also said they had received reports of calls.
It’s unclear if any of these incidents are related. But election officials are united in their guidance: Election Day is today, and you can safely vote in person until the polls close.