Flint Robocalls Purportedly Advised Voters to Avoid Long Lines and ‘Vote Tomorrow’

Election Day 2020 brought with it expectations of widespread, ongoing attempts at voter suppression — and those expectations bore out early and often.

One report from Flint, Michigan concerned “robocalls” warning of long lines at polling places — and urging voters to vote “tomorrow,” that is, long after the polls close:

At 10:41 AM local time, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel tweeted that her office had received “reports of multiple robocalls going to Flint residents,” advising them to “vote tomorrow [November 4 2020]” in order to avoid long lines. Nessel added that there were not long lines, and further that November 3 2020 was the last day to vote:

No long lines and today is the last day to vote. Don’t believe the lies! Have your voice heard! RT PLS.

Claims of this sort are very, very old chestnuts, and typically (though not always) passed off as a joke. Folklore expert Barbara Mikkelson first catalogued the “joke” as it moved from word of mouth and fax machines to email inboxes ahead of the 2000 election, in which George W. Bush ran against, and ultimately defeated, Vice President Al Gore:

Presidential Election Announcement

Due to an anticipated voter turnout much larger than originally expected, the polling facilities may not be able to handle the load all at once. Therefore,

Republicans and Independents are requested to vote on Tuesday, November 7.

The Democrats will vote on Wednesday, November 8.

Please pass this message along and help us to make sure that nobody gets left out and everything will run smoothly with this minor change.

Be sure to vote!!! Know where your voting place is near you!!

2000 Presidental Election Commission

As the page above noted, forms of this “joke” evolved with the way disinformation spreads, eventually becoming less of a humorous quip and more of a potential tactic for voter suppression.

At 11:31 AM Eastern, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer tweeted about the Flint robocalls:

Whitmer explained:

We received reports that an unknown party is purposefully spreading misinformation via robocalls in Flint in an attempt to confuse voters.

Let me be clear — if you plan to vote in-person, you must do so, or be in line to do so, by 8PM today.

We were unable to locate any video or audio showing the Flint robocalls, nor was there any information available about how prevalent the reports were. Nevertheless, as Michigan’s Governor and Attorney General emphasized, voters planning to vote in person (in any state) were required to cast their ballots by the time polls in their individual states closed.