“My office has received a recording of a robocall targeting Detroit voters using racially-charged stereotypes and false information to deter voting by mail,” Benson said. “It is an unconscionable, indefensible, blatant attempt to lie to citizens about their right to vote.”
Benson, who is a Democrat, also said she is working with the Michigan attorney general to “seek justice on behalf of every voter who was targeted and harmed by this vicious attempt at voter suppression.”
“This was an attempt to suppress, in my case, my community, an African American community, solidly Democratic, suppress voter turnout in this upcoming general election,” Dowell said. “It’s unfortunate that the powers that be, or whoever is behind this, would stoop so low to keep people from voting their choice this election, which is very, very important.”
It’s not clear how many people in Chicago and Detroit received the misleading calls.
Benson, the Michigan official, said in a statement that “the source of the call is still unknown,” but she pointed out that the robocall claimed to originate from Burkman and Wohl, whom she called “two political operatives with a known reputation for spreading misinformation in an effort to gain notoriety.”
In a brief interview with CNN, Wohl denied that he or Burkman were responsible for the misleading and racist calls, and said they only learned about them after Burkman started receiving angry messages from people who saw his number on their caller ID.
“We’ve never done any robocalls,” Wohl said. “We are categorically uninvolved.”
Burkman did not respond to messages seeking comment on Thursday.
State election officials are largely on their own when it comes to dealing with false claims about the voting process, including mail-in voting, when they are promoted by political operatives or candidates.
While there has been some outreach by the Department of Homeland Security in recent months, multiple state officials tell CNN that there is no federal guidance in place when it comes to disinformation coming from within the US, leaving states to develop their own protocols.