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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."

Update, 10:59 a.m.: Corrected spelling of GMU spokesman's name.

By Brian Krebs  |  November 4, 2008; 10:36 AM ET
Categories:  Fraud , From the Bunker  
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Comments

If you're dumb enough to fall for something like this, you don't deserve to vote.

Posted by: _virginian_ | November 4, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

If George Mason students are so stupid as to be concerned about this, we should pull the school's accreditation.

Somewhere, The Prince of Internetia, the Honorable PooPoo Umilakindend, formerly of Nigeria, is sending them a promise of a fortune.

Our Nation's future is secure. Wonder who young folks voted for? God Help Us.

Posted by: GreenHornet1 | November 4, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Blame the victims? How typical of ReTHUGlicans.

If you're corrupt enough to commit Election Fraud you don't deserve to be outside of a jail cell.

Posted by: kevinschmidt | November 4, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

As a GMU grad I can tell you the problem/confusion here is not related to people believing the email message; it's an issue of how this could have been sent through an upper-level administrator's email account. Snide remarks and blatant insults are uncalled for in any situation, but are particularly despicable when they call into question a person's right to vote.

Posted by: dld03 | November 4, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Sorry Repugnicans but this is way more serious that someone hacking the Barracuda's email. Hope they investigate and prosecute this future Rovian. This is the kind of thing that Karl cut his teeth on. The Dough-boy's first evil act was to leaflet cars with false flyers to smear a Democrat. That was shortly before he dropped out of college to serve Satan full-time.

Posted by: willandjansdad1 | November 4, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

The thugs know they can't win without voter suppression. The old guard is terrified. They know they will lose the opportunity to loot what's left of the treasury.

Posted by: dogsbestfriend | November 4, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

It seems that republicans are famous for this kind of stuff. This is absolutely un-american.

Posted by: dlanet | November 4, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

_virginian_ (I'm guessing a "real Virginian") shows typical Republican hypocrisy on the issue of voter fraud. Some wiseacre fills in "Mickey Mouse" on a voter registration card and this is a "threat to the very fabric of our democracy" (J. McCain) but this very sophisticated effort to keep people from voting is a joke.

Posted by: Cossackathon | November 4, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

If you're dumb enough to fall for something like this, you are probably a Palin supporter, so it's probably a good thing.

This is serious, not for the message, but for the fact that the University must have really bad system security.

Posted by: cparada | November 4, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

As a former GMU student (05,BA) I'm fully confident in the competency of the student body. I just hope this doesn't make national headlines. I have no doubt that this was a wayward student who doesn't fully comprehend the severity of his/her crime.

Posted by: neogeomedia | November 4, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Let's please not blame the Republicans (although I wouldn't put this type of thing past them). I doubt that this was anything more than a prank, with no intent to manipulate the election.

To the GMU student having fun... well played.

Posted by: PeterFellenz | November 4, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

If one is dumb enough to fall for this, they don't belong at a university - staff or students.

Posted by: mtndance | November 4, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who believed that the provost's e-mail address is imsohot_69(at)yahoo(dot)com was probably going to vote for McCain, anyway.

Posted by: TheProFromDover | November 4, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I work at GMU and got this e-mail. From talking to others around campus, I don't think anyone fell for the trap. The concern was more that the e-mail was coming from Provost Stearn's e-mail account. There is also anger on campus that someone would try to trick our community into being voiceless in this election, and would think the trick would work. Mason students are not stupid (just do a search and look at the most recent news articles about GMU, for example, voted number one school to watch). In fact, Mason students are so smart that apparently one of them was able to hack into a secure e-mail account.

Posted by: lia1 | November 4, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

It was an obnoxious prank, and the perpetrator should be punished. But on the list of serious things in life, it seems to me to be fairly far down the list.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 4, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Luck George W Bush is not longer in college otherwise he would have back to the bottle for the rest of the day and go to vote on Wednesday.

Posted by: luispanagi | November 4, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I voted on Sunday. I was in line with a woman and her daughter behind me, who spent the wait talking about how important their votes were to everyone they saw, and how they wanted to be sure their votes counted. Then the woman told everyone that she hadn't voted last time - a bit hypocritical. Then her daughter (at least age 18) mentioned that her sister was living in Canada, and she wasn't sure she could voted while living abroad. This said while clutching the CA voter's booklet with the absentee ballot application on the back. Oh, and that her sister was now a Canadian citizen, because you automatically become a citizen of a foreign country when you live there. These are the people who are allowed to vote? Sometimes I think we do need intelligence tests for voting.

Posted by: babsy1 | November 4, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

same thing happened in hampton roads area

http://hamptonroads.com/2008/11/officials-find-source-fake-election-flier-wont-press-charges

fake change-election-day fliers are posted in urban areas every election.

just like fake calls go to radio stations "warning" of police warrant-checks at polling places in minority areas.

sure it's a joke. riotously funny. ha.ha.ha.

Posted by: justkiddingdc | November 4, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

IF YOU ARE DUMB ENOUGH TO FALL FOR THIS, YOU SHOULD BE KICKED OUT OF THE COLLEGE FOR FAILING THE IQ TEST.

LOL " ELECTION DAY MOVED"!!!

THAT MUST HAVE BEING SOMEONE FORM 'THE ONION'.

Posted by: coqui44 | November 4, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

hahahaha that is funny...

Posted by: jimwhite1 | November 4, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I once had a young intern ask what day Christmas was going to be on this year.

News Flash: April Fool's has been moved to April 2nd.

The Young and the Clueless.

Posted by: GreenHornet1 | November 4, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I was more concerned that I couldn't figure out to whom I should report the security violation. As to the other commenters, you can never underestimate the power of stupidity.

Posted by: JOKR715 | November 4, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

For those of you blaming Republicans for this, you obviously don't know that GMU is a notoriously conservative school.
Sort of doubt Republicans are going to disenfranchise their own voters.
Obviously, it's the work of Dems.

Posted by: lawschoolsophist | November 4, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Republicans incite worries about electoral fraud so they can suppress voting. But all the actual cases of electoral fraud I've heard about in my lifetime, including this one, have been committed by Republicans. And they wonder why their party is shrinking.

Posted by: pundito | November 4, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

The only idiots here are the people who are criticizing GMU students and parents for complaining.

Where is the outrage that was expressed when some college kid hacked into Palin's Yahoo! account?

This goes beyond any kind of practical joke as it has been attempted all over the country and appears to be the result of an organized effort.

If it's being done by McCain/Palin backers, it says a lot more about them than it does about the people who are outraged and complaining.

It shows that the GOP thinks most voters stupid enough to fall for such a scam.

Why would anyone want to vote for someone from a party that assumes they are that ignorant?

I wouldn't.

Posted by: dablues | November 4, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

This doesn't surprise me at all, GMU is a racist university. Anybody check on how many tenured university professors are on the GMU faculty? The answer is ONE... when I was in grad school there in the late 90s, someone had put KKK flyers on the cars in the parking lot... no kidding. And I'm white by the way, for all you racists that are thinking otherwise.

Posted by: EBEB | November 4, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Again see above. GMU is a conservative school. It's obviously a scam by an idiot kid who thought it was funny or a liberal.

Posted by: lawschoolsophist | November 4, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I meant to say "African American tenured professors"... sorry.

Posted by: EBEB | November 4, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm Mason student who received the email (and was obviously smart enough to go vote today). Notice that the email implies the entire election was moved, not just for one party or the other... not that that's more convincing, but I don't think you could blame dems or republicans for it.

By the way, I go to Mason and I don't notice how "notoriously conservative" it is. . .

Posted by: olea | November 4, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Here's my thought:

1)Being confused by such an email hoax does not mean that anyone, whether staff, student, faculty or administrator, should not be voting. Receiving an official email that goes against what you know is confusing, even if you still think it false.

2)While many find it difficult to believe, voting can be confusing, difficult, and hard to navigate. Why do we think turnout is often so low? There is nothing wrong with being confused by misinformation, or with one admitting that they do not understand the process. Admitting confusion means someone can clarify information. We should be encouraging people to ask questions about electoral processes and not gawking at them.

3) I am a strong Democrat--and note I feel the need to preface this comment with that disclaimer. Referring to Republicans as "Repugnicans" or "Rethugnicans" is disrespectful, childish, and pointless. Good job categorically insulting vast numbers of people. I think we need to be careful about generalizing all people that identify with the GOP and linking them with specific Republicans who choose to commit election fraud and tamper with voting. The party is not an evil hoard of people, it is a group of citizens sharing policy beliefs based on a general conservative ideology. Specific members of said party are responsible.

That's the end of my rant. I love the Fix and generally think the comments have pretty good insight. Not so much today.

-Meg Schmitt
Smith College (Northampton, MA), Class of 2009
Native New Yorker

Posted by: schmeg04 | November 4, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

lawschoolsophist wrote: "For those of you blaming Republicans for this, you obviously don't know that GMU is a notoriously conservative school.
Sort of doubt Republicans are going to disenfranchise their own voters.
Obviously, it's the work of Dems."

Actually, Obama is the favored candidate at GMU:

From the GMU Gazette (11/3)

When asked who they would vote for if voting today:

Obama: 46.3%
McCain: 42.7%

For respondents who identified themselves as undecided voters, they were asked which candidate they were leaning toward:

Obama 56.3%
McCain 43.7%

So, your argument is a bunch of bunk. Or, if you prefer, sophistry.

Posted by: Petrosyan63 | November 4, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

And here John McCain had us convinced all along that he didn't know how to use a computer. Sneaky guy!

Posted by: sean_donaldson | November 4, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

EBEB, the flinging of the label "racist" at people, real or imagined, who may think about the make up of tenured professor ranks or KKK leaflets on cars differently than you, makes you part of the problem we have here in America, where civil discourse about issues breaks down into temper tantrum label flinging because people do not want to take the time to hear differing perspectives out. Ever consider that maybe there haven't been many QUALIFIED (not affirmative action "qualified" but really qualified) professors of color actually willing to put in the work it takes to attain tenure ? Maybe there are only so many tenure positions to be funded per year? I don't know, but I think it's typical cowardly reactionary blather to call a university racist because of a condition that you don't know all the reasons about why it is so.

Sighs...You are part of the problem, EBEB. Stop with the label flinging already, and engage in discussion that leads to meaningful change if it's so important. Change from pointing fingers and blanket labels only results in one outcome: that of the loudest voice!!

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | November 4, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Gee "Virginian"... An awful lot of people fell for George Bush ...and are AGAIN falling for Sarah Palin.

Maybe they shouldn't be allowed to vote by your standards either?

There has NEVER been a proven case of organized voter fraud. There ARE MANY DOCUMENTED WIDESPREAD CRIMINAL republican attempts to deny Americans their right to vote through scams just like the one described in the article.

Those who scam voters are UNAMERICAN.

Posted by: onestring | November 4, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Stupid, ignorant, rethuglicans. The only idiot dumb enough to fall for that is someone voting for McCain. When will these rednecks in Virginia stop fighting the (blue) change that is coming. Virginia WILL be the first Southern state (not including FL) to go red in forever, no amount of the repugs' lies and deception will change that.

Posted by: terp4life1 | November 4, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I suspect that most, if not all the students would realize this is a hoax. However, in a very tight election, even if 100 students or staff take it seriously, it could tip an election to one side. And what kind of challenge can one possibly bring if that happens? The Republicans are quite aware that Northern Virginia is the key to taking VA's electoral votes, and I wouldn't put it beyond them to mess around. It only goes to show that we are nothing more than a banana republic with computers.

Posted by: jaysit | November 4, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I go to Mason. I got the email. I knew it was bogus and figured it was just another piece of spam. Mason's not very conservative. Mason as a very diverse student body (2nd most diverse campus in the US). Obama's the choice of most of the students here (he visited last year).

Posted by: AHappyWarrior | November 4, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

GMU is not that conservative any more. Its Law School has some very conservative professors, but other than that, the student body is diverse in all aspects including party affiliation.

Posted by: jaysit | November 4, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

So much for blaming Republicans. Seems that a company that supports Democracts was responsible for routing the email.

"According to the information contained in the e-mail header -- a portion of the message that could not be faked -- the bogus alert was routed to the university though servers at wiredforchange.com, a company in Washington, D.C., that provides e-mail and fund-raising services to Democratic and progressive candidates.

Among the group's clients are Va. Gov. Tim Kaine's Moving Virginia Forward campaign and Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh's All America Political Action Committee Web site."

Posted by: NIMH1 | November 4, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

People who judge the actions of others through the lens of party affiliation are pathetic. If its wrong, its wrong no matter who did it.

Posted by: suki13 | November 4, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

This reminds me of something that happened when I was at Michigan State. The members of the student government decided they should be compensated for their services. However, they couldn't just vote themselves compensation; a student referendum was necessary to approve compensation for the Student Board members.
The day before the referendum, a Student Board member circulated a deliberately confusing flyer that implied that a vote of yes would mean no and that a vote of no would mean yes. The next day, the referendum passed. Afterwards, many students who had voted yes expressed their disappointment and said that they would not have voted yes if it had not been for that confusing flyer.
The problem for those who believe hoaxes like this is not stupidity; it's lack of experience in life. My story also illustrates that crooked politicians learn their trade at a young age.

Posted by: dergans76 | November 4, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

GMU students *are* that stupid: it is the trailer park of large public universities. GMU is Virginia's old-boy-network's attempts to have a large public university be a conservative hotbed. The school pays out the nose for star conservative professors to come there, but most of the professors are idiots and churn out lame conservative-skewed academic work. The professors have poor intellectual and personal quality, and so do the academics.

A few years back their affirmative action/equal opportunity/sexual harassment guy was busted and sent to Lorton prison for being a pedophile and extortionist, and he had worked there for about 20 years, bullying and mistreating students who tried to file complaints against faculty and administrators there. The GMU faculty and administration, of course, knew all about how corrupt his office was and they were happy with it. That place is a white racist, sexist old boy network trailer park from one end of the campus to the other.

GMU is such a crummy, corrupt school it's about #8 on the list of colleges to go to if you can't get into any other 4-year college as an in-state student. Its best students are 3rd and 4th year transfers from community college, which should tell you something about how bad the students are who start there as freshmen. You can always tell when it's midterms or finals week, on account of all the fire alarms that go off because panicked students pull them so that they get out of the test.

Not only is it unsurprising that this stupid hoax emerged from the GMU's email system, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was one of the faculty or administrators who "compromised" the system.

Trash, trash, trash.

I hope their funding gets cut dramatically if VA turns blue.

Posted by: AsperGirl | November 4, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

oh Cyan Squirrel, how sad you are and how tragic. The reason for no African American professors at GMU is that they're lazy??!! did you really say that??!! And that KKK leaflets simply reflect a difference in views or, how did you put it "issues".... scary! The reason there is only one no-African American tenured professors comes from the top.

Posted by: EBEB | November 4, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Flash email from the GMU president's office:

"GMU has been identified as a trailer park by the local zoning commission. All faculty and administrators are asked to disconnect their propane tanks, settle their water and sewer bills, and hook up and haul their homes off-campus by close of business Friday."

"Just kidding. Only, try to keep the pit bulls chained because we had another student mauling this week."

Posted by: AsperGirl | November 4, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

(1)The hacking of a senior university official's e-mail account is serious, and I hope that the perpetrator is caught and punished appropriately.

(2)The smear comments about GMU appearing on this thread are as disturbing as the hacking. For shame.

Posted by: ANetliner | November 4, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse

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