FBI probes robocalls urging voters to ‘stay home’ on Election Day

People across the United States received anonymous robocalls in the days and weeks before Election Day urging them to “stay safe and stay home”, in what experts said could be an attempt to scare voters into sitting out the hotly contested polls.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating calls that seek to discourage people from voting, a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security told reporters on Tuesday. Authorities would not offer details.

US state and local officials have been raising the alarm over at least two separate automated call campaigns as millions of people cast their votes on Tuesday to decide between President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden.

Janaka Stucky, 42, a Democratic voter who lives in Medford, Massachusetts, was one of the many who received the robocall on Tuesday.

“My first thought was that actually, it was a municipal test call for a COVID lockdown thing,” he told the Reuters news agency.

“The more I thought about it I was like, oh this actually feels really off and weird and then started to feel like it was some sort of, maybe, voter-suppression effort,” he added.

The automated calls were placed to residents in nearly 90 percent of US. area codes, according to an analysis by YouMail, a tech company that makes anti-robocall software. YouMail’s findings were reported on Tuesday in The Washington Post newspaper.

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