New York AG announces probe into robocalls allegedly designed to mislead voters


New York Attorney General Letitia James is launching an investigation into allegations that robocalls provided misleading voting information and urged voters to stay home on Election Day. 

James, who noted that her office issued subpoenas earlier this week as they seek to probe the source behind these spam calls, warned Tuesday that those who are trying to impact an individual’s right to vote “will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.” 

“Attempts to hinder voters from exercising their right to cast their ballots are disheartening, disturbing, and wrong. What’s more is that it is illegal, and it will not be tolerated,” James said in a statement.

Her remarks come as an estimated 10 million robocalls have inundated voters as they head to the polls. Some of the robocall messages were designed to encourage voters to stay home and others were designed to mislead voters, according to The Washington Post.  

The newspaper, citing experts who track the telecom industry, reported that the automated spam calls encouraged those on the other end of the line to “stay safe and stay home.”

In Michigan, one robocall reportedly targeted those living in the city of Flint by inaccurately telling people to vote on Wednesday to avoid long lines. The polls will be closed on Wednesday. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has pledged to “work quickly to stamp out misinformation.” 

While the FBI declined to offer further comment apart from noting that the bureau is “aware of reports of robocalls,” a senior government official confirmed Tuesday to reporters that the FBI is investigating the matter in Michigan.

“Robocalls happen every election, we are aware of those calls. The FBI is now investigating,” the senior official said. “This is more of a voter intimidation, voter suppression tactic — that is more in the FBI’s remit.”  

It is unclear who was behind the robocall campaigns. Still, the calls have raised new concerns about malicious actors exploiting cellphones and other technology to deter people from voting.

The FBI is encouraging voters to verify “any election and voting information they may receive through their local election officials.”

Tags Gretchen Whitmer Michigan New York robocalls Voter suppression

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