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Surprise, surprise: It was only a matter of time before someone used AI to imitate a politician to interfere in the electoral process. It's simply a given. So it should come as no surprise that someone cloned Joe Biden's voice to help suppress voting in the New Hampshire primary.
The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office is investigating a robocall that went out to voters in the state telling them not to vote in the upcoming Democratic primary election happening today. The voice on the recorded message that began circulating on Sunday sounds like President Joe Biden. However, the state's AG expects it is likely an AI clone of the president's voice.
"Although the voice in the robocall sounds like the voice of President Biden, this message appears to be artificially generated based on initial indications," the AG's office said in a Monday statement. "These messages appear to be an unlawful attempt to disrupt the New Hampshire Presidential Primary Election and to suppress New Hampshire voters."
A part of those "initial indications" is that the calls originate from the treasurer of a PAC (political action committee) supporting Biden in New Hampshire primaries, leaving no motive for the calls.
NBC News obtained a copy of the recording, which sounds much like President Biden. It even tossed out a favorite Bidenism--"malarkey."
"What a bunch of malarkey," the recording says. "You know the value of voting Democratic when our votes count. It's important that you save your vote for the November election. We'll need your help in electing Democrats up and down the ticket. 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."
The giveaway is that there is no reason for Biden, or any other candidate, for that matter, to send out messages to constituents urging them not to vote.
Biden is already in trouble in New Hampshire because he does not appear on the primary ballot. The Hill notes that the Democrat National Committee (DNC) wanted to move the state's primary to February 3, replacing it with South Carolina. New Hampshire said no way, and somewhere in the conflict, the Biden campaign forgot to file in time for the January 23 primary. Meanwhile, the previously mentioned PAC (connected to the spoofed treasurer number) has worked to get NH voters to elect Biden as a write-in candidate.
NBC News contacted the Trump campaign, which said it had nothing to do with the calls.
Losing New Hampshire should not hurt the Biden team too much. Biden was fifth in the 2020 NH primary and still triumphed as the Democratic nominee. However, his age and political performance were unquestioned at that time. TCBS points out that this cycle has his party wondering whether he is the one who can beat Donald Trump, who is continuously looking like the presumptive Republican nominee.
It's not the first incident of bad actors using voice cloning AI to trick people. Some of the first scams began popping up last year. In those instances, the attackers were convincing people to send them money by cloning the voice of a loved one, saying he was in trouble.
To our knowledge, this is the first time anyone has used the technology to interfere with an election. However, it's highly likely it won't be the last.
Image credit: Phonlamai Photo