Bird of the Year vote fraud

Rodney Times - - OUT & ABOUT - 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 Welling­ton­based sta­tis­ti­cal an­a­lysts Dragon­fly Data Sci­ence, which has also run pro­grammes to track votes in real elec­tions in this coun­try, the US and UK.

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.

Se­cu­rity on the com­pe­ti­tion web­site had also been up­dated.

No other strange voting pat­terns had been de­tected, Collins said.

‘‘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 didn’t ex­pect the fraud­u­lent voter to come for­ward but 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 shortly af­ter 8am on Wednesday.

The kea is streak­ing ahead with 2292 votes, while the kereru¯ has 1101.

It’s not the first time the Bird of the Year has been rocked by dodgy voting.

In 2015 two 15-year-old twin sis­ters man­aged to use their par­ents’ busi­ness ac­count to make hun­dreds of fake emails, which they used to the ben­e­fit of the ko¯ kako.

You can still have your say in this year’s com­pe­ti­tion as voting closes on October 23.

Visit bird­oftheyear.org.nz to cast your vote.

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