Grid powered dynamic message signs

Seeing political signs along major roads and highways is not uncommon this time of year. With a historical election less than two months away on Nov. 8, supporters and candidates are becoming increasingly active to sway undecided voters to their side.

However, someone took a more unorthodox approach to advertising. On Sept. 26, the morning of the first presidential debate, a variable message sign on Route 25 in Calverton, NY was hacked to read “Vote Trump 2016.” Calverton is located just 55 miles away from Hofstra University, where the debate was held at 9 p.m..

Blank out signs are often used to signal road work ahead, dangerous conditions, amber alerts, stopped traffic, or other information useful to drivers, but not political advertisements.

Riverhead resident Walter Olsen became upset when he saw the sign, and sent an email to the Riverhead News-Review. He said that there was, ?nothing right about a construction sign being used this way.?

NY State Department of Transportation spokesperson Eileen Peters said that road crew workers corrected the sign on Route 25 after noticing it on Monday morning. It was unclear whether other blank out signs had been tampered with as well.

?Unfortunately, someone must have hacked into this unit and changed the traditional road work message,? said Peters.

This is not the first time that variable message signs have been hacked this election cycle. One sign in Corona, CA read “Vote Donald Trump,” in December 2015. Other grid powered dynamic message signs have read expletive anti-candidate messages, like one in San Diego in August, which said, “F*** Trump 2016 KKK,” or one that read, “Hillary for Prison,” in Oregon.

Hours after the Calverton sign was changed back to its intended message, the Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton went head-to-head in their first of three presidential debates, moderated by NBC Nightly News and Dateline anchor Lester Holt.

The 90 minute debate brought up climate change, foreign policy, economic growth, as well as many of Donald Trump’s controversial statements, including birtherism and hateful comments toward women.

Hillary Clinton won the debate according to 62% of voters, while only 27% believed Donald Trump won.

The debate broke records, with more than 80 million people tuning in. It was the most watched debate in history, as well as the most tweeted.

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