Michigan AG investigating racist robocall with false voter information

The Michigan Attorney General's Office is investigation a robocall received by a Detroit resident that used racially charged stereotypes to deter voting by mail, according to AG Dana Nessel.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Nessel have debunked the claims in the voice mail from a caller who claims to be associated with Project 1599 and says it is a civil rights organization founded by Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl.

“This is an unconscionable, indefensible, blatant attempt to lie to citizens about their right to vote,” said Benson. “The call preys on voters’ fear and mistrust of the criminal justice system – at a moment of historic reckoning and confrontation of systemic racism and the generational trauma that results – and twists it into a fabricated threat in order to discourage people from voting. The Attorney General and I will use every tool at our disposal to dispel this false rhetoric and seek justice on behalf of every voter who was targeted and harmed by this vicious attempt at voter suppression.”

The recording claims that voting by mail will allow police departments to “track down old warrants,” credit card companies to “collect outstanding debt” and for the CDC to “track people for mandatory vaccines.” It closes by warning the listener to not be tricked “into giving your private information to the man” and to “beware of vote by mail.”

Voting by mail is safe and secure in Michigan and does not expose your personal information to others.

“This is an unfortunate but perfect example of just how low people will go to undermine this election,” Nessel said. “This robocall is fraught with scare tactics designed to intimidate Black voters – and we are already working hard to find the bad actors behind this effort. We are grateful to WWJ radio and reporter Sandra McNeill for bringing this to our attention and helping us with our efforts, and we are especially grateful to the person who received the call and alerted WWJ. The minute we heard about it we pulled in our robocall team and they are alerting our counterparts across the country.”

Information the robocall team needs to be effective in its review of a robocall includes:

  • The recipient’s phone number
  • The recipient’s carrier
  • The robocall’s caller-ID number
  • Exact time and date of robocall
  • A recording of the message

If you receive this call or a call with similar content, please contact the robocall team by logging onto the state's website and report it to elections@michigan.gov.

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