While both presidential candidates have shown a steadfast social media presence ahead of election day, there are only two approved ways to get your vote casted—and logging onto Twitter and Facebook aren’t part of the process.
This was the claim made by fraudulent posters found on the SUNY New Paltz campus Sunday morning, urging students and faculty to use a social media hashtag to cast their vote in the upcoming election instead of heading to the polls or voting by approved absentee ballot. The fliers were reported to campus police that morning by a student who found them vastly distributed throughout the Lecture Center, a high-traffic academic building on the center of campus.
The fliers, approved neither by the Clinton campaign nor by the college, encouraged voting for Hillary Clinton on Facebook or Twitter by posting the message “Hillary #PresidentialElection” between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 8. While the messages advertised were false, the fliers were designed to mimic an official advertisement from the Clinton campaign, complete with the candidate’s slogan, logo and website. The posters did not mention Clinton’s opponent, Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Aligned with college policy, University Police were directed to remove the false fliers as no individual campaign posters are permitted in public spaces on campus. A campus-wide email was sent that evening, alerting students, faculty and staff of the legitimacies of the posters.
Vincent Abukosi, the third-year political science major that reported the posters, said his main concern with the faulty campaign materials was that they would misinform many new voters on campus.
“When I saw it on Sunday, I felt that I had to do something,” Abukosi said. “Most new voters and even some old voters may not fully understand the election laws in New York, so many may have believed those fliers. Voters being misled would have affected the results of the election.”
Abukosi also noted that the falsely-advertised social media voting option could have been be a clear way to mislead students as first-time voters.
“Most college students like social media, and this option would have attracted them as it would have been an easier option,” he said.
Request for comment by University Police was not returned in time for publication. It is not clear if the department is pursuing the person responsible for distributing the fliers.