As Americans across the country make their way to the polls on Election Day, registered voters in states across the country have reported receiving robocalls discouraging them from casting their ballot.
Nebraska Secretary of State Robert Evnen stated in a tweet that residents were getting “anonymous phone calls to voters telling voters to ‘stay home and stay safe.’” The Kansas Secretary of State's office also warned that there have been "robocalls telling voters to stay home." New York Attorney General Leticia James announced today her office is investigating similar robocalls in the state. The FBI is also investigating the calls, Reuters reported.
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Hashim Warren, a 40-year-old registered Democrat in Guilford County, North Carolina, who already voted earlier this week, told BuzzFeed News he received a similar anonymous message today telling him to "stay home and stay safe" shortly before 10 a.m.
“It was sort of creepy,” he told BuzzFeed News. “It definitely hit on the anxieties my family has had about the election.”
Residents of Flint, Michigan, have gotten robocalls this morning falsely informing them that “due to long lines, they should vote tomorrow,” state Attorney General Dana Nessel stated in a tweet.
"Generally speaking, those kinds of robocalls and text messages are geared toward conning people out of their savings, instead of conning them out of their vote," she said in a conference call.
People in parts of Michigan that tend to vote Democrat have for weeks received robocalls dissuading them from casting their votes. On Monday, Nessel warned residents of Dearborn about text messages “being sent to trick you into thinking there are ballot sensor issues.” Last month, two right-wing activists were charged with violating election laws for orchestrating a scheme that targeted around 85,000 registered voters, including in Detroit, and falsely claimed that mailing in their ballots would increase the chances of police arresting them for outstanding warrants or debt collectors tracking them down for unpaid bills.
Registered voters in Iowa, Florida, Massachusetts, Indiana, and Pennsylvania have also reported getting robocalls in recent days telling them to stay home.
While votes submitted before Election Day already amount to around 70% of the turnout in 2016, millions of Americans are expected to make their way to polling places today, as the country awaits the results of a contentious election.
In some states, local officials have faced technical problems.
In Spalding County, Georgia, local officials temporarily switched from voting machines to paper ballots due to a computer glitch that shut down the system, WSBTV reported. The
Franklin County, Ohio, switched to a manual check-in process after poll workers were “not able to upload all early in-person voting data into their electronic check-in system,” the state’s board of elections stated in a series of tweet. “It will not impact the security or accuracy of today’s vote. It's important to note that this does NOT impact voting machines in any way, and only modifies how voters are checked in.”
Voting machines were also temporarily down in Upshur County, Texas, before getting fixed before the morning was over, KYTX reported.
Meanwhile, state election officials in North Carolina extended voting hours by up to 45 minutes at four polling places that opened late across three counties.
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This story has been updated to include additional states that have been targeted by robocalls and information about the FBI's investigation.
Albert Samaha is Inequality Editor at BuzzFeed News and author of two books, "Concepcion: An Immigrant Family's Fortunes" and "Never Ran, Never Will: Boyhood and Football in a Changing American Inner City." He is based in New York.
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