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Fake Biden robocall encourages voters to skip New Hampshire Democratic primary

Manchester, New Hampshire — A fake robocall impersonating President Biden is encouraging Democrats not to vote in Tuesday’s Democratic primary in New Hampshire, raising concerns about misinformation and voter suppression.

In the recording, which was obtained by CBS News, a voice that sounds like Mr. Biden’s tells Democratic Granite State voters to “save” their vote for the November general election and to stay at home. 

“Voting this Tuesday only enables Republicans in their quest to elect Donald Trump again,” the voice says. “Your vote makes a difference this November, not this Tuesday.”

It’s unclear how many people have received the call, which was first reported by NBC News.

“This is deep fake disinformation designed to harm Joe Biden, suppress votes and damage our democracy. It is being referred to law enforcement so that they can determine who is responsible and bring them to justice,” said Aaron Jacobs, a spokesperson for the grassroots effort to write-in Mr. Biden on the Democratic primary ballot.

The New Hampshire state Justice Department said in a statement, “Although the voice in the robocall sounds like the voice of President Biden, this message appears to be artificially generated based on initial indications,” adding that it also appears to have been spoofed, making the call appear to “show that it had been sent by the treasurer of a political committee that has been supporting the New Hampshire Democratic Presidential Primary write-in efforts for President Biden.” The New Hampshire Justice Department advised the state’s voters to disregard the message and clarified, “Voting in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary Election does not preclude a voter from additionally voting in the November General Election.” Its Election Law unit is investigating the matter. 

Mr. Biden is not on the New Hampshire Democratic primary ballot this cycle after the Democratic National Committee (DNC), at Mr. Biden’s request, approved a new early primary state schedule that stripped New Hampshire of its usual status as the first presidential primary contest and elevated South Carolina — which was the first primary contest Mr. Biden had ever won in any of his three presidential bids —  to the coveted spot instead. 

In response to the president’s decision to skip the New Hampshire primary, over 100 New Hampshire Democratic leaders launched a campaign to encourage state Democrats to write-in Mr. Biden on primary day, which is permitted and has historical precedent. 

The DNC’s move barred candidates from campaigning in or appearing on the ballot in New Hampshire, ruling that any who did would not be allocated delegates from the state. Nonetheless, it left the door open for Democratic Primary challengers, including Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and author Marianne Williamson.

A spokesperson for Phillips’ campaign said it was not involved in the Biden robocall.

“Any effort to discourage voters is disgraceful and an unacceptable affront to democracy,” the spokeswoman said. “The potential use of AI to manipulate voters is deeply disturbing.”

The Trump campaign also denied involvement, telling CBS News that it was not involved in the calls.

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