Detroit and Chicago voters have been getting hit with racist and misleading robocalls to discourage them from mailing in their votes for the presidential election.
Voter suppression is extremely real, and it’s happened throughout history—this time, we are seeing and experiencing it first-hand as we approach the 2020 presidential election.
The latest act of voter suppression comes in the form of robocalls going out to voters in predominantly Black and Brown communities, racially harassing them, and feeding them misinformation about mail-in balloting. On Thursday, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson tweeted out a recording of the call. The call falsely claimed that if voters choose to mail in their ballots, their personal information will be at risk of being shared with law enforcement “to track down old warrants,” and they could even be added to a list for “mandatory vaccines,” CNN reports.
“My office has received a recording of a robocall targeting Detroit voters using racially-charged stereotypes and false information to deter voting by mail. It is an unconscionable, indefensible, blatant attempt to lie to citizens about their right to vote,” wrote Benson in her tweet. False claims that police will be using elections to crack down on warrants, and tickets have been used as a tactic to intimidate minority voters throughout history. Benson has been working with the Michigan attorney general to “seek justice on behalf of every voter who was targeted and harmed by this vicious attempt at voter suppression.”
My office has received a recording of a robocall targeting Detroit voters using racially-charged stereotypes and false information to deter voting by mail. It is an unconscionable, indefensible, blatant attempt to lie to citizens about their right to vote. https://t.co/lgNEh8mtvf
— Jocelyn Benson (@JocelynBenson) August 27, 2020
Alderman Pat Dowell also said the robocalls have gotten to Chicago voters. She posted on Facebook saying she got a call Wednesday night, as well. On Thursday, Dowell told CNN that she contacted the Chicago Board of Elections and said that she would be letting her constituents know that they were being misled. “This was an attempt to suppress, in my case, my community, an African American community, solidly Democratic, suppress voter turnout in this upcoming general election,” Dowell said. “It’s unfortunate that the powers that be, or whoever is behind this, would stoop so low to keep people from voting their choice this election, which is very, very important.”
There are no details on how many people received robocalls. Mail-in voting will be an option that many choose this year due to the global pandemic. Mail-in voting has been expanded across the country to support the large number of ballots that will be sent in. Meanwhile, #DonaldTrump has been lying about the method of mail-in voting, saying that it is “rigged” with widespread fraud. The calls say they are sponsored by a group founded by Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl, two criminal activists who have historically lied and spread false rumors in an attempt to attack Democratic lawmakers. However, Wohl has since denied that he or Burkman were responsible for the misleading and racist calls, CNN reports. Where the calls are directly coming from has yet to be found.