Our country certainly didn’t need any more reasons to be nervous right now, but here we are with one.
Between the coronavirus and the economic downturn it has caused, (and wildfires, murder hornets, and a record hurricane season), Americans are having a fairly rough 2020. Oh, and let’s not forget that we’re also about to be dealing with the most vitriolic presidential election that we’ve seen in modern history, which itself is enough of a stressor to send many Americans out into the fetal position with a thumb in their mouths.
Now, to make matters worse, a terrifying robocall is making the rounds just as America heads to the polls.
A wave of suspicious robocalls and texts bombarded voters as they began to cast their ballots on Tuesday, sparking fresh concerns about the extent to which malicious actors might harness Americans’ smartphones to scare people from the polls.
Across the country, voters have received an estimated 10 million automated, spam calls in recent days telling them to “stay safe and stay home,” according to experts who track the telecom industry. In Michigan, government officials on Tuesday said they had witnessed additional attempts to deceive their state’s voters in particular, including one robocall campaign targeting the city of Flint that inaccurately told people to vote tomorrow if they hoped to avoid long lines today.
Even though the calls didn’t specifically mention the election, authorities are working overtime to keep voters calm.
The origins of the each of the calls and texts remain unclear, reflecting the sophisticated tactics that robocallers typically deploy in order to reach Americans en masse across a wide array of devices and services. State election officials have scrambled to reassure voters in response, with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pledging Tuesday to “work quickly to stamp out misinformation.” The FBI also has opened an investigation into the Michigan robocalls, a Trump administration official said.
There have already been serious concerns about election day violence, making these threatening calls all the more effective.