As the 2020 general election approaches, fears of voter misinformation have loomed. Two conservative activists, Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, now face criminal charges in Michigan based on an alleged misinformation scheme. According to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who has filed charges against them, Wohl and Burkman used a robocalling program to try to dissuade people from voting. Among other things, the robocalling program told voters in the Detroit area that they could be tracked for mandatory vaccines if they mail in ballots. The calls urged voters not to reveal their private information by voting.
In addition to Michigan voters, voters in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois allegedly received calls from the robocalling program in August. The 85,000 calls primarily targeted areas with substantial Black populations, claiming that they came from a civil rights organization founded by the two activists. The charges faced by Wohl and Burkman consist of four felony counts. Two counts have a maximum sentence of five years in prison, while the other two counts have a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. Attorney General Nessel said that Wohl and Burkman will need to appear in a Michigan court soon.
These conservative activists have a history of controversial or even illegal behavior. During this election season, Wohl and Burkman leveled fake accusations of sexual misconduct against Democratic primary candidates Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren. They also engineered a fake FBI raid on Burkman’s home, which was meant to show that the government was retaliating against them for their alleged efforts in rooting out corruption. Wohl faced an unrelated felony charge of unlawfully selling securities in California last year. He was suspended from Twitter at one point in 2019 when he stated that he would create fake accounts to interfere with the election. This came shortly after President Donald Trump retweeted him three times.
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