Elections board finds voter fraud in spring election
Elika Roohi/Sun Star Reporter
April 23, 2013
Several students who never voted in this spring’s ASUAF election received email confirmations thanking them for their vote late on Friday night. Four of them reached out to ASUAF Office Manager Anne Williamson and VoteNet, the site that ASUAF hosts their online election on, expressing their concern about voter fraud.
Williamson investigated and found that the four ballots in question had identical first pages. She expanded her search, and discovered a total of 20 ballots that were exactly the same. Williamson then called the students with the questionable ballots, 14 of whom responded saying they had never voted.
Williamson followed up with VoteNet to find out the IP addresses the potentially fraudulent ballots had been cast from. VoteNet responded, saying there were three different IP addresses used. VoteNet also informed her they flagged five more ballots as questionable, bringing the count of potentially fraudulent ballots up to 25.
All the ballots were identical, with identifying features such as voting for Christian Burns-Shafer as president and Sophia Grzeskowiak‐Amezquita as a write-in for Senate spelled the same way on each ballot, said ASUAF President Mari Freitag. Freitag also said that the students with questioned ballots were all from two different academic programs.
The presidential race is unaffected, but Sophia Grzeskowiak‐Amezquita no longer has enough votes to keep a Senate seat. The way the current unofficial results stand, Sarah Walker will take the seventh Senate seat.
The online ballot requires students to submit their student ID numbers and birthday to access the ballot, and there is a page at the end of the ballot that students must read and affirm that they are who they say they are before they hit submit.
“This is using someone else’s information,” Williamson said. “It’s identity theft.”
ASUAF hasn’t dealt with voter fraud of this nature before, but both Freitag and Williamson said they wouldn’t be surprised if it has happened.
Williamson said she heard secondhand stories floating around last year about things like this, which is why ASUAF implemented the confirmation email with VoteNet in case someone was committing voter fraud. Which is exactly what happened, Williamson said.
ASUAF has narrowed down their search, but they’re following up before any allegations are made. They are looking for links between the ballots and students who would have access to the information, probably university employees, such as TAs, RAs or employees who have access to BANNER, the software filing system the university uses. Consequences for the culprit could include academic and employment discipline.