On Friday, the Globe and Mail posted this note to their website: “Recently, some astute readers alerted me to a strange voting pattern on one of our online polls about a proposed mining project in B.C. Sean Durkan, who handles communications for a group called First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining, wrote to say that over the space of perhaps four hours ‘the Yes side managed the rack up more than 3,000 votes – which was 50 per cent of the total they had managed to get in the previous 70 hours. They suddenly went from being behind by 1,000 votes and a margin of 54 per cent for the No side, to being up 1,500 votes and leading by 55 per cent to 45 per cent.'”
The Globe and Mail admits that, “With a few simple clicks, anyone can vote multiple times on most web polls. Once a reader has voted in a globeandmail.com poll, their computer is tagged with a cookie – this means globeandmail.com won’t let that computer cast another vote in the same poll. However, readers who are determined to vote multiple times can find a way. They can clear their computer’s cookies with a few clicks and vote again and again. Some tech-savvy readers also use a script, which can automatically clear cookies and cast many votes.”
The Tyee reported on October 27 that, “Supporters of the Tsilhqot’in National Government say their opponents hijacked an online Globe and Mail poll last week about a mine proposal near Williams Lake. …‘It appears someone hacked the system to dump thousands of votes in at a time,’ wrote Susan Smitten a filmmaker and executive director of the group Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs in an email to supporters. She asked the Globe to investigate what she said appears to be cheating. ‘The reliability of Globe and Mail polls, and your reputation for fairness stand to be tarnished significantly otherwise,’ she wrote. …A message to the Globe and Mail‘s department responsible for online polls was not immediately answered.”
The Tyee article is at http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/BC-Politics/2010/10/26/PollPush/. The Globe and Mail explanation is at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/community/digital-lab/changes-to-our-online-polls-what-do-you-think/article1777899/.