Updated Jan 22, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Fake robocall in New Hampshire tells Dems not to vote in primary

A sign says "Write in Joe Biden Jan. 23" on snowy ground

Campaign signs ask voters to vote for President Biden in New Hampshire's primary as a write-in candidate. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Biden write-in campaign has condemned a fake robocall circulating in New Hampshire, which has used the president's voice to discourage voting in the state's Tuesday primary.

Why it matters: Biden will not be on the state's primary ballot, but a grassroots campaign is encouraging voters to write his name in.

  • "This is deep fake disinformation designed to harm Joe Biden, suppress votes, and damage our democracy," said Aaron Jacobs, a spokesperson for the write-in campaign.
  • Biden's name is not on the New Hampshire primary ballot because of a conflict with New Hampshire legislators and the Democratic National Committee.

What they're saying: In the robocalls, reported by NBC News, Biden's manipulated voice tells the listener that votes are better spent in November and that a primary vote helps Trump.

  • "We are confident that New Hampshire voters will respond by showing up to the polls and making clear that we won't be intimidated by these dirty tricks," Jacobs said.
  • Kathy Sullivan, a former New Hampshire Democratic Party chair, said she plans to involve the state attorney general's office, per NBC. She has been working on efforts to encourage voters to write in Biden's name, and the calls end with her phone number.

State of play: "These messages appear to be an unlawful attempt to disrupt the New Hampshire Presidential Primary Election and to suppress New Hampshire voters," said Michael Garrity, a spokesperson for the state's attorney general office, in a statement.

  • The New Hampshire Department of Justice's Election Law Unit is investigating the calls, and said in a release that voters should disregard the call's content.
  • Recipients of the call were encouraged to share information about it with the unit.

The big picture: Generative AI threatens being used to amplify efforts to suppress votes, libel candidates and incite violence.

  • Speech is difficult to regulate, with tensions between freedom of expression and combating misinformation, Axios' Ryan Heath reports.

Context: New Hampshire has an open primary system, meaning undeclared voters can vote in the Democratic or Republican primary.

Details: The phone calls are being referred to law enforcement to determine who is responsible, Jacobs said.

  • It's unclear how many people received the calls or who specifically was targeted, per NBC.

Go deeper: Why Biden won't be on the New Hampshire primary ballot

Editor's note: This story was updated with a statement from the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office. It was corrected to reflect that a Biden write-in campaign, not the Biden campaign, condemned the fake robocall in New Hampshire.


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