Robocall Campaign Spreads Election Disinformation in Idaho

Election officials in Nez Perce County are warning voters to be aware of robocalls spreading disinformation about the presidential primary March 10. The recorded message tells voters the election isn't until March 17.

by Joel Mills, Lewiston Tribune / March 10, 2020
Shutterstock

(TNS) — Nez Perce County Auditor/Recorder Patty O. Weeks is asking county residents to beware of robocalls spreading disinformation about today’s presidential primary election.

Weeks said her office received a report from a Lapwai woman who said she got a call Sunday afternoon that played a recorded message claiming the primary isn’t until March 17. The woman tried to call the number that displayed on her caller ID after the erroneous message played a second time, but it was not functional.

“I tried it today and got the same thing,” Weeks said Monday of reaching a nonfunctioning number. “It’s hard to say what the (caller’s) objective is, but it would appear that in the end, people would miss the election if they think it’s later.”

Fraudulent calls like the one reported to her office can be easily “spoofed” using computer software that shows the recipient whatever number the caller desires. Weeks reported the call to Idaho Secretary of State cybersecurity officials Monday, who said they would inform the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in an effort to find the source of the call.

“But they’re not real hopeful, with the spoofed phone call,” Weeks said, adding that her office has not received any other similar reports as of Monday afternoon. “They kind of anticipated something, but we don’t know how widespread it is, whether it’s isolated or there’s more people. I would imagine that you’re not just going to get one random person in Idaho get the call. Although a lot of people just hang up on them.”

The officials in Boise said this is the first report in Idaho of a call attempting to misdirect voters for today’s election, she added.

Weeks said that those who receive such calls or have any other election-related questions should call her office at (208) 799-3020, or call their local county auditor if they live outside of Nez Perce County.

©2020 the Lewiston Tribune (Lewiston, Idaho) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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