Want to vote by mail due to COVID-19, but not sure how to go about it? We explain how to vote absentee in Michigan leading into the election.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is charging two well-known election provocateurs with felonies related to a racist robocall in metro Detroit that spread false information about the upcoming general election.
Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman are accused of orchestrating calls that went to thousands of voters in Detroit and other cities. The calls reportedly targeted Black voters and spread misinformation about voting by mail.
“Any effort to interfere with, intimidate or intentionally mislead Michigan voters will be met with swift and severe consequences,” Nessel said in a news release.
Jacob Wohl ignited a social media storm when his efforts to smear Special Counsel Robert Mueller appeared to be exposed as a hoax. He is charged with multiple felonies in Michigan. (Photo: Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY)
“This effort specifically targeted minority voters in an attempt to deter them from voting in the November election. We’re all well aware of the frustrations caused by the millions of nuisance robocalls flooding our cellphones and landlines each day, but this particular message poses grave consequences for our democracy and the principles upon which it was built. Michigan voters are entitled to a full, free and fair election in November and my office will not hesitate to pursue those who jeopardize that.”
More: Michigan election, legal chiefs decry ‘racist’ robocall that attacks mail-in voting
Wohl and Burkman had denied any involvement in the calls, although the audio in the call cited an organization with which they are affiliated. The two are known for creating hoaxes and spreading misinformation in an effort to champion conservative causes and President Donald Trump.
According to Nessel’s Office, their investigation determined similar calls went to residents in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois. Investigators believe roughly 85,000 robocalls were made, although a definitive total is unknown.
The charges were filed in 36th District Court in Detroit. Wohl lives in California and Burkman lives in Virginia. The news release said Nessel’s Office is working to ensure both appear in Michigan to respond to the charges.
Both are charged with one count of attempting to intimidate voters, one count of conspiracy to commit an election law violation, one count of using a computer to attempt to intimidate voters and one count of using a computer to commit the crime of conspiracy. Each is a felony and carries a punishment of anywhere from five to seven years in prison.
The call falsely claimed that voters who apply for and use absentee ballots are providing personal information that may be used by police to carry out warrants, by credit card companies to attempt to collect debts and the CDC to “track people for mandatory vaccines.”
None of this is true.
“Don’t be (inaudible) into giving your private information to the man. Stay safe, and beware of vote by mail,” the robocall states, according to a copy of the recording previously provided by the Office of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.
More: Voting by absentee ballot in Michigan is easy. We’re here to walk you through it.
In a statement, Benson also pledged to prevent the spread of misinformation ahead of the general election.
“I have zero tolerance for anyone who would seek to deceive citizens about their right to vote,” Benson said in the news release.
“I am grateful to the attorney general for her swift and thorough investigation, putting anyone else who would seek to undermine citizens’ fundamental rights on notice that we will use every tool at our disposal to dispel false rhetoric and seek justice on behalf of every voter who is targeted and harmed by any attempt to suppress their vote.”
Wohl also faces a felony charge in California from 2019, where he is accused of illegal sale of securities in 2016. In February, he pleaded not guilty.
Voting by mail and absentee voting — the same thing in Michigan — are safe and secure, say Benson, Nessel and many election experts. There is little evidence of any kind of voter fraud, tied to mail-in ballots or another other form of voting.
The general election is Nov. 3, but voters may request and return an absentee ballot now.
Contact Dave Boucher: [email protected] or 313-938-4591. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Boucher1.
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