A former Cal State San Marcos student who rigged a campus election by stealing nearly 750 student passwords to cast votes for himself and friends was sentenced Monday in federal court to a year in prison. It was Matthew Weaver’s decision to try to cover up the largest student identity theft in the university’s 24-year history that seemed to irritate the judge the most. “That’s the phenomenal misjudgment I can’t get around,” said Judge Larry Burns, who rejected Weaver’s request for probation. Burns said the election rigging was a serious offense but “kind of juvenile.” Developing a scheme to deflect blame after he had been caught made it worse. “He’s on fire for this crime, and then he pours gasoline on it to try to cover it up,” the judge said.
A month before the election, Weaver purchased three keyloggers — small electronic devices that secretly record a computer user’s keystrokes.
Authorities said Weaver installed keyloggers on 19 school computers, stole passwords from 745 students and cast ballots from the accounts of more than 630 of those victims.
The plot unraveled in March 2012, the last day of the four-day voting period, when computer technicians noticed odd activity on one of the college lab computers.
Using remote access, technicians watched the computer user cast vote after vote. They also watched as the user logged into the account of a university official and read an email from a student complaining that the system would not let her vote.