Internet now a voter disenfranchisement tool

Scammers are using text messaging, Facebook and e-mail hacking to try to disenfranchise voters in the 2008 election.

Dirty political tricks are going Web 2.0 in the 2008 presidential election, with scammers using Facebook, text messaging and e-mail hacking to try to trick people into missing their chance to vote.

Scammers have long used fake flyers or automated calling banks to target groups of voters in hopes of either scaring them away from polling stations or tricking them into showing up on the wrong day.

But this year these dirty tricks have expanded. In a conference call with media on Tuesday, Jonah Goldman, a spokesman with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said that these tactics are on the rise in 2008. "We're surprised at how ubiquitous it's become and how sophisticated it's become," he said.

His group had seen robocalls and flyers with this type of message in 12 states so far in this election, including Florida, Louisiana and Virginia. That's about twice as many states as during the 2004 presidential election.

On Facebook, for example, there have been at least three instances of fraudulent voting messages posted over the past two days, according to company spokesman Barry Schnitt. In each case, messages were posted saying that Republicans were set to vote on Tuesday, while Democrats would vote on Wednesday.

One of these messages was posted on the Facebook group page for Missouri State University, Goldman said.

The messages were quickly removed after being flagged by users and have been seen by only a small number of people on the site, Schnitt said. "Facebook is not a very effective way to do this," Schnitt said, adding that the company plans to refer the messages to law enforcement.

Youth voting group Rock the Vote says voters in Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and Pennsylvania have received similar text messages on their mobile phones, reading: "Due to long lines tomorrow, all obama voters are asked to vote wednesday. thank you."

E-mail hacking has come into play, too.

About 35,000 students at George Mason University were sent a fake e-mail early Tuesday, also telling them to vote on Wednesday. The message appeared to be from the school's provost, Peter Stearns. According to the Washington Post, a hacker managed to route this message to the university via servers at, a Democratic fundraising company based in Washington, D.C.

"To the Mason Community," the fake e-mail reads. "Please note that election day has been moved to November 5th. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you."

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags US election

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Taking cybersecurity to the highest level and order now for a special discount on the world’s most awarded and trusted cybersecurity. Be aware without a care!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?