The League of Women Voters, based on NBC News reporting, is suing the creators of a deepfake robocall impersonating President Joe Biden that urged New Hampshire voters not to participate in the state’s presidential primary in January.

The century-old nonpartisan organization filed the lawsuit Thursday in federal district court in Concord on behalf of three New Hampshire voters who said they received the calls. The suit asked for injunctions and tens of thousands of dollars in damages from Democratic operative Steve Kramer and two telecom companies behind the call, Lingo Telecom and Life Corporation.

“These types of voter suppression tactics have no place in our democracy,” said Celina Stewart, chief counsel at the League of Women Voters of the United States. “For over 100 years, the League of Women Voters has worked to protect voters from these unlawful crimes and will continue to fight back against bad-faith actors who aim to disrupt our democratic system.”

Kramer’s spokesperson, Hank Sheinkopf, said Friday that his client had not yet received notice of the suit and declined to comment further.

Kramer acknowledged to NBC News last month that he commissioned the calls, but claims he did so in order to raise awareness about AI deepfakes, not to deceive people. His admission came after an acquaintance he paid to use AI software to create the audio came forward to NBC News.

Kramer previously said he had been subpoenaed by the Federal Communications Commission, which sped up plans to criminalize AI-generated robocalls in response to the Biden robocall.

The New Hampshire attorney general’s office, one of several law enforcement agencies looking into potential criminal violations, previously identified telemarketing firms Life Corporation and Lingo Telecom as the distributors of the call.

Paul Carpenter, the nomadic magician whom Kramer hired to create the audio, maintains his innocence, is complying with legal investigations and has spoken with law enforcement, according to his attorney, Brandon Kizy.

Mark Herring, a former Virginia attorney general who is now in private practice at the law firm Akin Gump and one of the attorneys for the League of Women Voters, said he hopes the lawsuit will serve as “a deterrent” as AI technology becomes more prevalent.

“As a former state attorney general, I know the damage that voter suppression can inflict on our democracy,” Herring said in a statement Thursday. “We must hold accountable those who abuse new technology to undermine our freedom to vote.”

The suit alleges that the robocalls violated a federal law meant to protect voters from intimidation, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and provisions of New Hampshire state law against deceiving recipients about the source of robocalls.

The calls were spoofed so they would show up on caller ID as if they came from the spouse of a former chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, who at the time was running a pro-Biden super PAC.

Kramer, a get-out-the-vote specialist with more than 20 years of experience working in local, state and federal campaigns, was on contract at the time for Biden’s main primary challenger, Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., who has since withdrawn from the race.

Kramer and the Phillips campaign both insist the campaign did not direct Kramer to make the calls. Kramer’s contract, worth more than $250,000, was for ballot access work in Pennsylvania and New York.

Courtney Hostetler, senior counsel at Free Speech For People, another nonprofit which joined the case as co-lead counsel, said that while this might be the first lawsuit of its kind, it likely won’t be the last.

“As the technology gets better, it is going to be harder to identify the deceptive calls from the accurate calls,” she said.

The Federal Trade Commission received more than 175,000 complaints about imposter calls during the fiscal year ending on Sept. 30, 2023, the agency said.

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