New Zealand Reports Rigging Of Votes In An Election To Choose ‘Bird Of The Year’

New Zealand has reported rigging of votes in an election to choose the ‘Bird of the Year’. A hacker managed to slip in 1500 fraudulent votes.

Mamta Raut

November 12, 2020

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3 min

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New Zealand’s annual Bird of the Year election has witnessed voter fraud and not for the first time. Reportedly, as the citizens of the country slept, a hacker managed to slip in more than 1500 votes in favour of the Kiwi, a flightless bird. This fraudulent activity has agitated Bird of the Year 2020 competition. It is an online popularity contest, held every year among the native birds of New Zealand.

“It’s kind of disappointing that people decide to try their little tech tricks on Bird of the Year,” Laura Keown, the spokeswoman for the competition, said on Tuesday. “I’m not sure what kind of person could do it, but I like to assume that it’s somebody who just really loved native birds.”

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The online contest kick-started on November 2 and it will end this Sunday. The voting is conducted through an instant-runoff system that enables everyone to rank their favourite birds. The organizer of the contest is a New Zealand-based advocacy group namely Forest & Bird. According to them, the main aim of the competition is to raise awareness about the plight of New Zealand’s more than 200 species of native birds, out of which many are on the verge of going extinct.

“It’s a chance for people to get to know our native birds so that they will love them and they’ll want to protect them,” Ms Keown said. As the voting process began, a data scientist who had volunteered to monitor the vote found something suspicious. He discovered that a voter had put a huge amount of vote in favour of the Kiwi pukupuku. It is one of the five species of kiwi bird that are found in the country.

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According to the data scientist, it is easy for one to recognise if cheating is conducted. “When a bird gets a whole lot of votes in the middle of the night and zooms from the middle of the pack to the top of the ranks, that’s a sign that something’s going on,” he said.

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