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Joe Biden impersonated in deepfake call to disrupt New Hampshire primary

The Attorney General’s Office is investigating a robocall, allegedly made with AI, that discouraged voters from taking part in the vote on Tuesday

New Hampshire primary
Banners explaining how to vote for Joe Biden, even if he does not appear on the ballot, at a campaign event in Concord (New Hampshire).Octavio Guzmán (EFE)
Miguel Jiménez

Social media has revolutionized political communication, for better and for worse. Fake news and misinformation has been spreading online at lightening speed and has already interfered in several elections. With recent tech advances and artificial intelligence’s ability to create deepfakes and realistically impersonate people, there is even greater danger today. These threats were made evident in New Hampshire, which will hold presidential primaries on Tuesday. The state’s Attorney General’s Office announced on Monday that it is investigating complaints that a robocall used AI to mimic U.S. President Joe Biden in a bid to disrupt Tuesday’s vote.

According to a statement from the Attorney General’s Office, the robocall was made on January 21, 2024, and encouraged people not to vote. “Your vote makes a difference in November, not this Tuesday,” it said. Although the voice in the call sounded like Biden, the Attorney General Office suspects that it was generated with AI.

According to the statement, the message also appears to have been “spoofed” to falsely show that it had been sent by the treasurer of a political committee that has been supporting the write-in efforts for President Biden at the New Hampshire Democratic primary. Biden will not appear on the official ballots due to a disagreement over the Democrat Party’s primary calendar, which meant he did not register in time. Despite this, voters can vote for Biden on Tuesday by writing his name by hand in the blank box on the ballot. The president’s supporters have been mobilizing to send this message to voters.

The fact that Biden has been left on the ballot has provided fertile ground for these unknown calls that discouraged people from voting. “These messages appear to be an unlawful attempt to disrupt the New Hampshire presidential primary election and to suppress New Hampshire voters,” said the statement from the Attorney General’s Office. “New Hampshire voters should disregard the content of this message entirely. Voting in the New Hampshire presidential primary election does not preclude a voter from additionally voting in the November general election,” it added.

The Attorney General’s Office announced that the Department of Justice Election Law Unit has launched an investigation. Anyone who received the call or message are encouraged to email the department (electionlaw@doj.nh.gov) identifying the date and time they received the call or message; its origin, its content and any other relevant information.

Although Biden is not on the ballot, all polls indicate that he will be the clear winner. There is uncertainty, however, about how the write-in vote situation may affect the results. Polling in second place is Congressman Dean Phillips, but he is trailing by a huge distance. A close result would be a blow for the president.

In New Hampshire, the Democratic and Republican primaries are held simultaneously. More attention is on the Republican primaries, which — following the withdrawal of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — have become are a two-way race between Nikki Haley and Donald Trump. If Trump wins in the state, his nomination is likely to be a foregone conclusion.

In the Democratic primaries, Biden does not have any major rival. What’s more, the Democratic Party will not, in principle, award any delegates to the winners of this Tuesday’s elections due to the aforementioned disagreement over the primary calendar.

In the New Hampshire primary, independent voters are also allowed to vote in the Republican and Democratic primaries.

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