New Zealand Election Fraud

It seems that this election season has not gone without fraud. In New Zealand, a vote for “Bird of the Year” has been marred by fraudulent votes:

More than 1,500 fraudulent votes were cast in the early hours of Monday in the country’s annual bird election, briefly pushing the Little-Spotted Kiwi to the top of the leaderboard, organizers and environmental organization Forest & Bird announced Tuesday.

Those votes—which were discovered by the election’s official scrutineers—have since been removed. According to election spokesperson Laura Keown, the votes were cast using fake email addresses that were all traced back to the same IP address in Auckland, New Zealand’s most populous city.

It feels like writing this story was a welcome distraction from writing about the US election:

“No one has to worry about the integrity of our bird election,” she told Radio New Zealand, adding that every vote would be counted.

Asked whether Russia had been involved, she denied any “overseas interference” in the vote.

I’m sure that’s a relief to everyone involved.

Posted on November 13, 2020 at 6:25 AM17 Comments


Clive Robinson November 13, 2020 8:00 AM

@ ALL,

the Little-Spotted Kiwi

Yes they’ve been a rarity around here since “lockdown” many have migrated south for better climes…

But joking aside, all voting systems attract people who think that they should get more than one bite at the cherry.

An example in the UK was “Boaty McBoatface”[1] whilst it was just a joke, that took a gentle swip at the pomposity of certain types of organisation it gained legs of it’s own and when the “stiff upper lip” mob started to look perplexed and dropped hints that the name was not in keeping with the gravitas of the tradition, voting patterns changed…

In the end a compromise was reached and whilst the ship is now RRS Sir David Attenborough the very expensive leading edge autonomous submersible is called Boaty McBoatface[2]

All though the naming idea was not original (it started with an Owl[2]), the name has become used by “researchers” who now refere to “McBoatfacing” as a cultural effect.

But the point is that you often see a change in voting patterns when you start getting McBoatfaced, thud the question of “voting fraud” does arise, but is the change “Correlation or Causation” few go and check because it can be somewhat difficult.

Saying only one vote from an IP address is like saying “only one vote per home address”, it’s obviously unfair. But it has other issues such as which vote should be excepted? If you say thr first one or the last one that allows people to “game the system” as does saying they will all be invalid.

Even charging money per vote as happens with premium rate phone lines used for “talent contests” does not appear to be a limitation on “vote rigging”.

Every time I look into voting systems I realise there are so many ways to not just “rig the election” but carry out “fraudulant voting” that we need a book on the subject. But the one thought I almost always come away with is “Simple is best” because “It’s the easiest to audit”.

And at the end of the day the secret to “Free and Fair” elections is “Simplicity, Transparancy and Audit” with transparancy giving interested parties regulated oversight[3]. And importantly simplicity making the process easly understandable so transparancy and audit can work effectively.



[3] Regulated oversight is required not just as part of auditing, but also to limit intimidation of election staff who do both the vote count and any subsequent recount for auditing.

Anders November 13, 2020 10:49 AM


Here in Estonia also accusations surfaced regarding
our e-voting.


MikeA November 13, 2020 11:26 AM


or, as C.A. Hoare famously said (About programs, but applies more generally):

One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies, and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies.

The first way has fallen even further from popularity over the decades since he said that.

MarkH November 13, 2020 12:12 PM

@Foster, who wrote:

“corporate media insist that election fraud is very rare in the US” [my emphasis added]

… and then proceeded to cite examples from 72, 60 and 38 years ago.

The word “is” has a definite meaning, referring to existence or action at the present moment, or not long before.

The 2000 election failure was a wake-up call for the U.S. The conduct of elections has gradually improved, and is very far different from the patterns of previous generations.

I know of no substantial evidence of election fraud in any U.S. federal election since 2000, which was of sufficient magnitude that it could conceivably have changed outcomes.

The past is a foreign country, my friend. They do things differently there.


Election tampering is not dead, and I presume will continue as long as elections do.

A few months ago, some officials in a New Jersey town ignorantly thought that postal balloting would give them an easy way to steal a pre-November election.

Their fraud was identified … they were too … and now they are in the jaws of criminal prosecution.


It’s worth noting that both of Foster’s post-1950 examples occurred in Cook County, Illinois, which was nationally famous for it’s corrupt “machine” politics.

Cook County’s corruption was famous because it was exceptional, not because it was typical.

It’s also worth noting that four Illinois governors have served time in prison for corruption.

The most recent of them was released from prison early when president Trump rewarded his corruption by commuting his sentence.

Some people are horrified that a man can be imprisoned for using public office as a personal ATM machine.

MarkH November 13, 2020 12:27 PM


As far as public records show, exactly four cases of fraudulent voting were detected in the 2016 federal election.

Two were individuals who voted twice … for Trump.

Another was a judge (!!!) who filled in her dead husband’s ballot … presumably for Trump, as she was a Republican.

The last case was more serious, involving tampering with multiple ballots, but no votes for president were altered.

Another arrest for the 2016 election was a legal alien who mistakenly believed that she was eligible to vote. Though she had lived many years in the U.S., she was ordered to be deported for her election violation.

She said that her unintentionally illegal vote was … for Trump.

Clive Robinson November 13, 2020 12:57 PM

@ MikeA,

The first way has fallen even further from popularity over the decades since…

It could be because there is no real profit in the former, but untold riches for a few in the latter.

But what of society? It generaly benifits from the former and looses considerably from the latter.

Another case of “Personal Rights-v-Societal Responsability”…

People have to decide, but if they chose poorly, then as people in the 1930’s Europe found, sometimes you can not go back… Because they’ve crossed a tipping point, and those the people put in charge will not allow the people to take them out of power again.

Speaking of which, perhaps people should ask why anybody should take up an executive post that should end on the 20th of Jan? Maybe they think they are going to keep their feet under the table somehow?

If just one or two were doing it you might decide they were just “deluded yes men”, but if it is a delusion it appears to be spreading… Perhaps people should be asking why?

lurker November 13, 2020 1:32 PM

@Bruce: -1 for a sneaky tease.

New Zealand held its triennial parliamentary elections on October 17 [1]. The left-leaning Labour party led by Jacinda Ardern romped home with 65 seats, sufficient to govern without a coalition partner in our MMP system. The result is generally believed to reflect the government’s handling of the pandemic, aided by the main opposition National party imploding before the election with infighting for the leadership and a number of disgraceful (by our mild standards) moral lapses by various members.

Of note for this blog, paper ballots, all the way;
Mail ballots only from overseas voters;
Early voting started two weeks before election day to accomodate possible unforeseen Covid restrictions;
57% of all votes were cast early, and went into the normal ballot boxes;
Counting was mostly completed on the night of election day;
Overseas, out of electorate, and late registration votes were counted later, final results announced two weeks after election day changed 2 out of 120 seats.

We gaze in wonder and astonishment at the opposite corner of the ocean …

[1] has all the information on page, or for those who like chasing thru pages of the official site

Dave November 14, 2020 3:35 AM

Some parts of NZ have practically institutionalised voting fraud, or at least dubious voting, most famously the Republic of Whangamomona, The first president was elected without his knowledge, to be succeeded by Billy the Goat (died in offfice), Tai the Poodle (retired after a vehicular assassination attempt), Murt the Turtle, and finally Vicki Pratt, another president elected against their wishes. There was a later election where one of the candidates, a sheep, disappeared before the election. Mutton sandwiches were then put on sale during the voting.

Clive Robinson November 14, 2020 5:35 AM

@ Dave,

+1, it has raised not just a big grin on a very wet and gray day in London (apparently one of London’s main attractions) bit also renewed my faith in humanity when faced with certain types of bureaucracy.

David November 14, 2020 11:23 PM

Most modern fraud is based on gerrymandering. I live in a country where identity cards carry your address and are used to establish voting constituencies. Some empty building plots turned out to have hundreds of residents.
Many more voters leave their address as their hometown rather than their actual address. Rural constituencies can have up to less than 10% of the population of some urban constituencies.

There are cases of 120 year old voters, where an illegal alien has somehow adopted the identity of a citizen, but these are small in number compared to the voter location manipulation

There are rural states in the USA where a fairly small influx of voters could steal a few electoral college votes and two senate seats

Clive Robinson November 15, 2020 7:57 AM

@ Jeff,

How do you explain Ardern getting elected?

I think @Lurker has given one potential explanation above.

The fact that sufficient citizens vote in a particular way that might suprise others including pollsters[1] is not unexpected.

People can frequently be undecided right up to the time they enter the voting booth. Others will make decisions on what appears irrational or even unhinged by others.

I certainly do not vote on party lines or even what some would consider self interest, but what I think will benifit society. But do not get me wrong that does not make me a liberal or socialist, capatalist or all those other “ists”, unless you consider “pragmatist” as a political persuasion.

[1] I’m of the opinion that any one who thinks they are entitled to my considered opinion without paying for it deserves to be cheated as much if not more than they are cheating me. So I’m not averse to “poisoning their well” as standard practice.

Oh look didums has overflowed his diaper November 15, 2020 4:55 PM


Oh look didums wants to play silly games with,

“All right, then. Truth. … It must be truth above all.”

Funny an anti-religion move, with Witches and Dark Arts and deeds.

How about one nearer to your actual failings,

Col. Jessep : You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way…

Oh and finally,

Col. Jessep : I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

xcv November 15, 2020 4:57 PM


I will only speak to an unknown caller after they have called two or three times from the same number, or after the caller leaves a message introducing themselves and explaining why they want to chat.

The last time I answered a call from an unknown number, it was a disbarred attorney from another state. I just recently noticed that half the screws on the bottom of my laptop computer are loose or missing.

Someone at some point in time helped him/herself. I wouldn’t know when exactly.

Wesley Parish November 19, 2020 12:12 AM

Re Jacinda Ardern’s re-election. Competence in times of crisis is generally rewarded. Plus a good many National Party voters decided to punish their party for its infighting and reward Labour so that they wouldn’t need to Greens in order to govern. Strategic voting, it’s called.

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