EXPLAINER: What’s happening with Election Day ‘robocalls’?

Published 6:40 pm Tuesday, November 3, 2020

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WASHINGTON — Election officials in a handful of states are warning voters to disregard “robocalls” urging them to stay home rather than go to the polls. It’s unclear whether the calls are part of any partisan agenda. They have hit Republican-leaning states as well as Democratic ones.


One series of them appears to have gone out around the country and doesn’t reference the election. Another appears targeted specifically at voters in Flint, Michigan, a Democratic stronghold with a large African-American population.

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Election officials in Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa are among those who say they have received reports urging voters to “stay home and stay safe.” Some officials are sending a different message.

“Our polling places across the state are open. Our voters and our poll workers will be kept safe,” Nebraska Secretary of State Robert Evnen tweeted. “Elections matter and your vote counts.”

“Disregard these calls. If you have not already voted, today is the day!” said a tweet from the Kansas secretary of state’s office, which is overseen by Secretary of State Scott Schwab, a Republican.

The FBI is investigating calls that seek to discourage people from voting, a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security told reporters Tuesday. Authorities wouldn’t offer details.


Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said her office was getting reports of multiple robocalls telling Flint residents that, due to long lines, they should vote on Wednesday.

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

Michigan is a critical swing state that Donald Trump and Joe Biden have both targeted in the campaign’s final days.

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says her office has received reports of an “unknown party” purposely spreading misinformation in Flint in an attempt to confuse voters. “Let me be clear — if you plan to vote in-person, you must do so, or be in line to do so, by 8 p.m. today,” she tweeted.