A wave of robocalls using racist language went out in Georgia in recent days apparently targeted at undermining the campaign of former state lawmaker Stacey Abrams, who is running to become the first black female governor in the United States, according to her and her rival’s campaign.
The calls impersonated media mogul Oprah Winfrey, who earlier this week campaigned with Abrams, and also featured anti-Semitic language, according to audio of the call heard by Reuters.
Both Abrams and her rival, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, denounced the calls, with the Republican calling them “absolutely disgusting.”
“It just shows the desperation,” said Ivory Watts, a 36-year-old activist who formerly lived in Georgia who received one of the calls.
The issue of voter suppression has been central to the race in Georgia, where Kemp is the state’s top election overseer.
Two federal courts on Friday issued rulings ordering the state to allow some 3,000 naturalized U.S. citizens to vote in Tuesday’s elections and prevent the state from throwing out some absentee ballots.
A similarly racist round of calls went out in August in Florida, targeting Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum, who is black.
As of Friday night, almost 32.4 million people had cast ballots early across the United States, according to The Election Project at the University of Florida, which tracks turnout. That is up more than 50 percent from the 20.5 million early votes cast in all of 2014, the last federal election when the White House was not at stake.
Trump on Friday appeared in West Virginia with Patrick Morrisey, who is seeking to unseat Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. They marked his third campaign appearance in West Virginia and fourth in Montana.
In Florida, Trump campaigned for Governor Rick Scott, who is trying to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, and U.S. Representative Ron DeSantis, who is running for governor against Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor.
If the Democrats won, Trump told the crowd at an aircraft hangar in Pensacola, they would impose socialism on Florida.
“Welcome to Venezuela,” he said. “And they’ll erase America’s border. We have to have a border if we are going to have a great country.”
Additional reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, California; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by James Dalgleish and Grant McCool