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Trust Index: Robocall telling people ‘stay home,’ Orange County Democratic chair says

Democratic party alleges calls are designed to suppress voters

Man in denim uses cell phone
Man in denim uses cell phone (WDIV)

ORLANDO, Fla. – On the eve of Election Day, the Orange County Democratic party reports at least 11 people have received robocalls telling them to “stay home.”

According to a recording of the call, a robotic voice is heard saying, “This is just a test call. It’s time to stay home. Stay safe and stay home.”

“This coming on the eve of election, we think is designed to suppress the vote tomorrow,” said Orange County Democratic Party Chair Wes Hodge, while standing across the street from the Supervisor of Elections Office Monday. “We’re here to let the voters of Orange County know that the Supervisor of Elections has taken tremendous steps to make sure that every voter is as safe as they can be.”

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Hodge said they do not know where the calls originated from but wanted to tell people it is safe to go out and vote on Tuesday.

News 6 contacted the Supervisors of Elections in all nine Central Florida counties, and not one of them said they had received any complaints about the calls.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Orlando Police Department both said they had not been contacted by anyone either, and they were not investigating.

The Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation told News 6 they could not confirm or deny they were investigating any allegations involving the call.

In fact, Hodge said he had not contacted authorities, and he was having his lawyers look into the call.

Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles said he didn’t know there was an issue until he saw Hodge holding a news conference across the street from the elections office.

“(The recording) is so vague, and it’s so difficult to tell who it’s aimed at,” said News 6 Political Analyst Jim Clark. “We do know that Republicans make up a large number of the voters that vote on election day. Is it aimed at them? Is it in the Democrats? Who can possibly tell?”

“The Florida Department of State has not received any reports regarding a robocall encouraging people to stay home on Election Day,” said spokesman Mark Ard. “The Florida Department of State encourages voters to always seek out trusted sources for elections information such as the Florida Department of State or their local Supervisor of Elections. The Department has information on how Floridians and their votes are being protected at FloridaElection2020.gov.”

Polls opened across the state at 7 a.m. on Tuesday for Election Day. Millions of Floridians were expected to come out and vote in person. Election officials have implemented safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensured voters it is safe to vote in person.

More than half of Central Florida voters in the 10-county region have already cast their ballots by mail or in-person during early voting, according to the Florida Department of State’s Division of Elections.

By Monday morning, 60.8% or more than 2 million people in Central Florida have voted.

If anyone has an issue voting on Election Day they can call the Voter Protection Hotline at 833-VOTE-FLA. Attorneys will be standing by to help voters with any issues.

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