Fact Check: 'Stay Home' Robocalls To Voters Are NOT Authentic

Fact Check

  • by: Arthur Brice
Fact Check: 'Stay Home' Robocalls To Voters Are NOT Authentic Stay Home Scam

Did election officials warn voters to "stay home and stay safe"? No, state officials in Nebraska and other states say robocalls with that message are fraudulent attempt to suppress voting.

The deception was spotlighted in a tweet (archived here) published by the Nebraska secretary of state on November 3, 2020, which opened:

The Secretary of State Office has received reports of anonymous phone calls to voters telling voters to 'stay home and stay safe.' Our polling places across the state are open. Our voters and our poll workers will be kept safe. Elections matter and your vote counts.

This is what the post looked like on Twitter at the time of writing:

Twitter screenshot

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Tue Nov 3 19:54:52 2020 UTC)

According to Cindi Allen, Nebraska assistant secretary of state, the automated robocall speaker says, "Now is the time to stay home. Stay safe and stay home."

Similar calls have been received in Iowa, Michigan and Virginia, Allen told Lead Stories in a telephone interview.

The FBI is reported to be investigating.

Storyful on November 3, 2020, sent a verified recording of one of the bogus calls on Twitter:

The recipient of the call highlighted by Storyful, Hashim Warren, said in a November 3, 2020, Twitter direct message to Lead Stories that he lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, and recorded the robocall that was placed to his personal mobile phone.
When called, the New York number from which the call originated answers with a "not a working number" message.

The deceptive calls don't give a specific reason to stay home, but are being placed in the context of rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in some states.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel posted a warning Tuesday morning on Twitter:

The Washington Post reported on November 3, 2020, that the calls, which started in October, "now appear to have affected nearly every ZIP code in the United States."

Officials in Nebraska have determined that the calls represent voter interference, Allen said. State officials are investigating the matter, which is also being looked into at the federal level, she said.

Allen said she could not determine if the calls have affected turnout but voting was "very smooth, no kinks."

Nebraska officials have countered the calls with posts on Facebook and Twitter, she said, as well as with news releases for online newspapers and TV newscasts.

"There are a large number of voters turning out at the polls," she told Lead Stories. "There is an average 25-minute wait. There are long lines."

The weather has cooperated, she said. "The weather is beautiful," Allen said. "That's why there's a large number of voters. It's almost 80 degrees."

The Washington Post reported there also were text messages sent out to interfere with voting. Said the newspaper:

On Tuesday morning, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel warned local voters about a suspicious text message making the rounds that sought to sow confusion about the voting process. The text said a 'typographical error' meant that people who are 'intending on voting for Joe Biden' instead had to select President Trump, and vice versa. The text, which Nessel's office shared with The Washington Post, attributed the information to the "Federal Berue [sic] of Investigation.'

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  Arthur Brice

Arthur Brice is a fact checker at Lead Stories. He has been a journalist for more than 40 years, nearly 30 of them in newspapers. Brice was a national desk editor and reporter at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for nearly 20 years. Previously, he was political editor at The Tampa Tribune and also worked for three other Florida newspapers. He spent 11 Years as an executive editor and executive producer at CNN. 

Read more about or contact Arthur Brice

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