Election Deception and, of course, long lines...

by Adam Fogel // Published November 4, 2008
Students have traditionally had a tough time getting to the polls on Election Day, but this year could be different. With record rates of voter registration and high anticipated turnout, the 18-24 year old demographic could swing the election. But the Washington Post reports students at George Mason University in northern Virginia woke up to a confusing e-mail message this morning:

GMU E-Mail Hoax: Election Day Moved to Nov. 5

Unknown hackers broke into George Mason University's e-mail system and sent students a forged message from the school's provost early this morning stating that Election Day had been moved to Nov. 5.

The messaged, dated 1:16 a.m., Nov. 4, with the subject line : Election Day Update, read:

To the Mason Community:

Please note that election day has been moved to November 5th. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.

Peter N. Stearns Provost

Seven hours later, students, faculty and staff received another message, this time from the real GMU provost, who blamed the e-mail hoax on a compromise of the school's e-mail system.

GMU spokesman Daniel Walsch said the university has been fielding calls all morning from students and parents upset or confused about the fraudulent missives.

"This is upsetting and embarrassing and has caused a lot of confusion and concern among people," Walsch said.

Walsch said the message was sent to approximately 35,000 GMU students, faculty and staff, and that whoever forged the e-mail had to have gained privileged access to the school's official e-mail system. GMU is in the process of reaching out to law enforcement officials to investigate who may have hacked into the system.

"Not many people have that level of access," Walsch said. "If we can find out who did it, we will do what we can to prosecute the individual. This is very serious."

In other election news, NBC affiliate KSHB and the Kansas City Star report voters in 6 precincts in Kansas City had to wait over an hour and half for their polling place to open this morning because the poll workers received the wrong polling books. After the initial confusion, the process seems to be back on track.

Voters around the country--from New York to Indiana (so far)--are experiencing excruciatingly long lines this morning. Some reports indicate voters in Florida are waiting in lines that rival the 3 hour early voting lines, but luckily, the AP reports that over 40 percent of registered voters have already cast their ballots. Early voting may also reduce problems in Colorado, where NBC reports 42 percent of registered voters have already cast ballots.

In 2004, over 85 percent of all registered voters voted by Election Day. But keep in mind, close to a quarter of eligible voters won't vote in this election because they aren't registered to vote.

You can read our reports on election administration and preparedness here.