Fraud­de­tected in Bird of Year vot­ing

Kapiti Observer - - FRONT PAGE - MICHAEL DALY

First it was the Rus­sians in­ter­fer­ing in the US elec­tion, now vot­ing ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties have been un­cov­ered in the Bird of the Year con­test.

The voter fraud was de­tected by Welling­ton-based sta­tis­ti­cal an­a­lysts Dragon­fly Data Sci­ence, which has also run pro­grammes to track votes in real elec­tions in this coun­try, the US and Bri­tain.

Sci­en­tist Yvan Richard, who was run­ning the pro­gramme, no­ticed a big spike in votes for the white-faced heron around mid­night af­ter the first day of vot­ing on Mon­day. There was also an­other smaller spike around 11am on Tues­day.

Al­to­gether 112 votes were found to have come from the one IP ad­dress, some­where in the Christchurch area.

The white-faced heron fan used a ran­dom email gen­er­a­tor, so all the votes came from dif­fer­ent email ad­dresses, Bird of the Year co-or­di­na­tor Kim­ber­ley Collins said.

The rule was only one vote per per­son, so all but one vote from the of­fend­ing IP ad­dress had been deleted.

‘‘We’re not an­gry. We’re just im­pressed they were able to do that and they care enough about a bird to do it.’’

Or­gan­is­ers sug­gested he or she might like to make a do­na­tion to For­est & Bird’s Givealit­tle page Our Na­tive Birds Need You.

With­out the dodgy votes, the white-faced heron had just 30 votes early yes­ter­day. The kea leads with 2292 votes. Vot­ing closes on Oc­to­ber 23.

It’s not the first time the Bird of the Year has been rocked by dodgy vot­ing. In 2015 15-year-old twin sis­ters man­aged to make hun­dreds of fake emails, which they used to sup­port the ko¯kako.

STEVEN WATKINS

A white-faced heron.

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