Politics

Teens, comedians and pranksters spam Trump’s voter fraud hotline

President Donald Trump waves to supporters as his motorcade arrives at the White House after he golfed at his Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. J. Scott Applewhite / AP

In its search for viable challenges to President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, President Donald Trump’s campaign set up a voter fraud hotline after Election Day, encouraging people to call in with reports of suspicious incidents.

“Help stop voter suppression, irregularities and fraud,” the campaign said in social media posts promoting the hotline. “Tell us what you are seeing.”

Although the campaign has thus far failed to prove any voter fraud, the hotline has received no shortage of phone calls – all thanks to a viral campaign on TikTok and Twitter to clog the hotline with anti-Trump memes and absurd messages.

Campaign staffers in Virginia have been answering the calls, ABC News reported, fielding prank calls from Biden supporters who have played songs and movie clips, filed bogus reports, submitted the entire script for the 2007 film “Bee Movie,” or simply mocked Trump’s loss before hanging up.

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Some people played rapper YG’s vulgar, anti-Trump rap, “FDT,” which rose up the charts as people celebrated Biden’s win. One woman said she met the devil at her Georgia polling place and he challenged her to a fiddle contest, but if she lost, Biden would win. Sportswriter Jeff Pearlman simply recounted the elaborate plot of the sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes.”

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Sunday. But some of the president’s allies, including son Eric Trump, responded to the reports of spam calls by blaming Democrats.

“The DNC is spamming our voter fraud hotline to bog down the thousands of complaints we are receiving!” he said in a tweet Friday. “Wonder what they have to hide.”

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TikTok and Twitter were rife this weekend with recordings of the prank calls.

Alex Hirsch, creator of the Disney Channel TV show “Gravity Falls,” called in to report that he saw a man, matching the description of McDonald’s Hamburglar, walk into a polling place wearing a “black hat, black mask, a striped shirt and a red tie, and I believe there were hamburgers in his bag.”

“And he was saying, ‘Robble, robble,’ as he was exiting the building,” Hirsch added. “Like a burglar. You know, I think he’s probably antifa.”

Comedian Tony Atamanuik, a noted Trump impersonator, used his impression of the president to call in to the hotline and “report the biggest fraud: the election is being stolen from me.”

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Dozens of other people said they phoned the hotline with manufactured claims of voter fraud over the weekend.

One woman, who posted a recording of her conversation with a Trump campaign staffer working the hotline, posed as a Trump supporter in Michigan. She claimed that she had been turned away from a polling place in Kalamazoo, Mich. – after already casting a vote in Detroit.

“I don’t think you’re allowed to vote twice,” the campaign staffer told her.

“Why wouldn’t I?” she said. “If the Democrats can do it, why can’t I?”

Young TikTok creators have trolled the Trump campaign in the past. This summer, alongside online-savvy fans of Korean pop groups, TikTok users encouraged their followers to falsely sign up to attend a June Trump rally in Tulsa, to make the crowd size much smaller than the campaign anticipated. The campaign denied that the plot worked, saying the bogus RSVPs were rooted out, but the rally did draw far fewer people than anticipated.

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Online activists also spammed a call for birthday messages to Trump this summer, and in 2017 people filled a hotline targeting “illegal aliens” with calls about E.T. and Superman.

On Sunday, comedian John Oliver suggested people submit images of rats mating, in a nod to an obscene slang term for devious political sabotage.

“It’s simply your patriotic duty to send them to the Trump campaign straight away,” Oliver said on “Last Week Tonight.”

The prank calls have reportedly made for miserable work among the campaign staffers working the hotline.

Axios reporter Jonathan Swan said on Twitter that an online submission form had also been flooded with “adult” images, describing those he had seen as “better left unpublished.”

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