Skewing the Results

Because of his deep and abiding respect for his constituents and their opinions on the issues, Congressman Brian Baird (WA-03) has included a poll on his official website posing the question, “Do you believe there is a need to reform our current health care system?”

Excellent! Congressman Baird has managed to frame the question in such a way that it appears as though he’s interested in what his constituents think on this issue while ensuring that the results will be so ambiguous as to be virtually useless. Not to mention the fact that no steps have been taken to limit the voting to residents of his own district, so as a gauge of their thinking, it’s completely worthless by design. Bonus: Congressman Baird gets extra credit points for subtly reinforcing the White House meme that there are only two choices on the issue, my way or the highway. It takes no small talent to achieve all that with a single poll question.

Aside from all that, it appears as though someone has been hard at work gaming the results of Congressman Baird’s survey.

The first vote was recorded on September 10th. An observer reports that between that time and roughly 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning, less than 90 “Yes” votes had been cast, approximately 1/3 of the total votes cast. Then sometime on Saturday, the “Yes” tally mysteriously began to rise, roughly 3 votes every ten to 15 seconds until, by Sunday morning, the “Yes” tally was over 10,200 votes. This unusual voting pattern was brought to my attention yesterday evening. At that time the “Yes” tally was 10,219 votes; as I write this, at noon on Monday, the tally is 10,224.

I turned to my tech team (okay, I tossed the question out on Twitter) for possible explanations.

  1. Somebody encouraged people to go vote in that poll on a forum or e-group…
  2. The webmaster wrote a script to make it look as though there was human input increasing the tally…
  3. Home hacker used a bot to vote but that would be considered non-trivial; bots require mad skills…
  4. A level of activism uncommon in Washington.

I have no idea what happened behind the scenes to increase the total of “Yes” votes on Baird’s poll, who was behind it or why they did it. Assuming there’s no malicious intent on the part of the Congressman, common sense should tell him that the results have been tampered with. That being the case, we can hope he will disregard the worthless results he was going to ignore anyway.

Cross posted at It’s Only Words