Fake text messages give false voting information

Obama prevailed, but there were still troubling problems with the voting process. Isn't it time to standardize federal elections?

By Cyrus Farivar

Published November 5, 2008 1:05PM (EST)

This election has been full of superlatives and firsts. I've never been prouder to be an American abroad than right now. The historic rise of this unlikely candidate, in the unlikely story that is America, fueled by this unlikely swelling of the online masses donating in unprecedented numbers, is nothing short of historic and astonishing.

But there were also a few troubling episodes on the technological front, with text messages and e-mails being used as a way to perpetuate false information.

Wired reported late last night that voters in Florida and New Mexico received a fake text message from 505-507-6041 that says things like: "Due to long lines if you are voting for Barack Obama you can vote tomorrow," or "Due to the long lines today, all Obama voters are asked to vote on Wednesday."

The AP adds that there have been reports of similar "robo-calls" and fake texts in Missouri and that the Missouri secretary of state and U.S. Attorney's Office have been notified. I'm glad that this wasn't widespread enough to have made a difference, but it's still a troubling development.

But that's not all. Thousands of students at George Mason University received an e-mail spoofed to look like it was from Provost Peter N. Stearns saying that "election day has been moved to November 5th. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you." Apparently the FBI is on the case.

And finally, while the outcome of the election was by a pretty overwhelming margin, there were still problems with electronic voting in numerous states, although not enough to have any sort of real impact.

Still,  we as a country really need to have a single standard for federal elections, get rid of these awful e-voting machines, and streamline this whole process so we don't have to deal with this kind of crap anymore.

On a more personal and professional note, I share with you the news that this is my last post in Machinist, which is going on hiatus beginning tomorrow.

I thank all of you for reading and for your thoughtful and critical comments. If you'd like to follow me and/or any of my other work on public radio or elsewhere, you can do so on my blog: cyrusfarivar.com (where I'll be announcing the result of our little trial voter-verified election), and/or you can email me at cfarivar [at] cfarivar [dot] org.


Cyrus Farivar

MORE FROM Cyrus Farivar

Related Topics ------------------------------------------