WASHINGTON, D.C. — The ranking member of a U.S. House committee that oversees election administration has sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate a robocall that seemingly uses artificial intelligence to impersonate President Joe Biden and misleadingly warns New Hampshire voters not to vote in the state’s primary.
Yesterday, NBC News reported that a number of New Hampshire voters received an almost certainly AI-generated call resembling Biden’s voice. The misleading message told voters to “save” their vote for the November general election, and errantly claimed that “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.”
Rep. Joseph Morelle (D-N.Y.), who sits on the the Committee on House Administration, wrote that he was “alarmed at the report that a party or parties unknown are attempting to confuse and disenfranchise New Hampshire voters using AI-generated robocalls in advance of the January 23, 2024, New Hampshire primary election.”
“To ensure that those responsible are held accountable, and in the hopes of preventing the spread AI-generated mis- and disinformation in future elections, I respectfully request that the United States Department of Justice begin investigating this matter immediately,” the letter continued.
The New Hampshire Attorney General’s office already announced that it is investigating the call, describing the messages as an apparent “unlawful attempt to disrupt the New Hampshire Presidential Primary Election and to suppress New Hampshire voters. New Hampshire voters should disregard the content of this message entirely.”
The exploitation of artificial intelligence for mis- and disinformation surrounding elections and candidates has risen precipitously in recent times, with officials and experts warning of a potential “tsunami of misinformation” leading up to the 2024 election.
This is not the first time New Hampshire voters have been subject to phone incidents involving bad actors. In 2002, the New Hampshire Republican Party hired a telemarketing firm that tampered with Democratic-leaning call centers working to get out the vote. In total, 900 calls were made to jam the phone lines of the centers, in an effort to stymie Democratic turnout in the state’s U.S. Senate election. Four men were ultimately convicted and sentenced to prison over the incident.