NH Attorney General Probing Fake Joe Biden Voice Urging Dems Not To Vote In Primary

The New Hampshire attorney general’s office is investigating an apparent mass robocall that used a fake Joe Biden voice to urge New Hampshire Democrats not to vote for the president in Tuesday’s Democratic primary in the state.

The robocall, which features what appears to be either a spliced-up version of Joe Biden’s words or an AI creation, was first reported by NBC News.

“What a bunch of malarkey,” the Biden voice says in the robocall, according to a recording posted by NBC News.

“We know the value of voting Democratic when our votes count. It’s important that you save your vote for the November election. We’ll need your help in electing Democrats up and down the ticket. Voting this Tuesday only enables the Republicans in their quest to elect Donald Trump again. Your vote makes a difference in November, not this Tuesday.”

On Monday morning, a spokesperson for the New Hampshire attorney general’s office acknowledged receiving complaints about the call, adding, “Although the voice in the robocall sounds like the voice of President Biden, this message appears to be artificially generated based on initial indications.”

“These messages appear to be an unlawful attempt to disrupt the New Hampshire Presidential Primary Election and to suppress New Hampshire voters,” the spokesperson added. “New Hampshire voters should disregard the content of this message entirely. Voting in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary Election does not preclude a voter from additionally voting in the November General Election.”

Biden isn’t listed on Tuesday’s ballot in New Hampshire. The first Democratic presidential primary contest officially approved by the Democratic Party this year is actually in South Carolina, despite New Hampshire’s tradition of being the “first-in-the-nation” primary state. The New Hampshire Democratic Party nonetheless kept its early primary date; as a result, the contest will reward zero delegates.

The fake Biden robocall concluded by listing the phone number of Kathy Sullivan, former chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party who’s now running a super PAC urging New Hampshirites to write in Biden’s name Tuesday. In a statement, Sullivan said she hadn’t authorized the call and referred to it as “outright election interference.” She told NBC News that she received several calls Sunday evening from people saying they’d received the fake Biden call. Aaron Jacobs, a spokesperson for the write-in campaign for Biden, called the call “deep fake disinformation” in a statement.

The attorney general’s office said the message appeared to have been “spoofed” to appear as if it had been sent by Sullivan, who it identified as the treasurer of a political committee that has supported the write-in Biden effort. The office encouraged recipients of the message to email the state’s Election Law Unit at electionlaw@doj.nh.gov, “identifying (1) the date and time they received the call or message; (2) the origin of the call or message; (3) the content of the call or message; and (4) any other relevant information.”

A spokesperson for Dean Phillips, a Democratic congressman challenging Biden who will be on the New Hampshire ballot, told NBC News that Phillips’ campaign wasn’t aware of the calls but called them “wildly concerning.” A spokesperson for Donald Trump told NBC News, “we have nothing to do with it.”

The apparently fraudulent robocall brought to mind a similar trick – one that turned out to be criminal – from the right-wing operatives Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman during the 2020 election.

In the summer of 2020, tens of thousands of people across multiple states received a robocall orchestrated by the pair falsely stating that voting by mail could lead to harassment from police, debt collectors and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The pair were fined $5.1 million by the Federal Communications Commission and faced prosecution in Ohio, ultimately pleading guilty to one count of telecommunications fraud each and facing a sentence of probation and 500 hours of community service — helping people register to vote.

In New York, a U.S. district judge found that the robocalls violated state and federal civil rights laws, targeting specific neighborhoods in an effort to “deter Black voters by exploiting fears and stereotypes.” In Michigan, the state’s Supreme Court heard arguments in November over whether a criminal case should be allowed to continue.