Invalid votes mar online act contest

HANNAH FLEMING
Last updated 05:00 08/11/2012

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Over-exuberant fans have hijacked an online competition as they try to win their favourite acts the chance to play at Womad.

The winning band is being decided through an online vote and Taft marketing and communications manager Lisa McMullan said hundreds of invalid online votes had recently been cast.

As a result, 31 bands vying for the opportunity to play on the world stage have had hundreds of votes culled.

"There was a huge amount of votes cast over the weekend, so we did a regular IT sweep of the emails on Monday night, which is something we do every couple of days," Ms McMullen said.

"As a result people noticed on Tuesday morning that some vote tallies had been adjusted and that is because invalid votes were deleted," she said.

The anomaly was brought to the attention of Womad staff by Wellington blues musician Darren Watson, of Darren Watson and The Real Deal Blues Band.

Watson had been heavily campaigning on social media sites to drum up votes and on Monday had managed to secure more than 630.

When he checked the voting on Tuesday, he found his votes had almost halved.

While he initially found it hard to believe that 261 of his group's votes were "dodgy", a thorough search by Womad IT staff identified hundreds of votes had been cast from false email address generating websites.

"It looks like it may have been an overzealous fan after all," he said.

"I'm gutted someone would try to cheat the system on our behalf, even if they did feel like they were helping us."

Watson said he sent Womad an email on October 31 to point out it was not verifying email addresses and invalid votes could become a problem.

The musician, who has already played at Womad alongside Midge Marsden, said he did still have one concern, which came from a first-time voter who was sent a message saying her vote would not count because she had already voted.

"I just think a little bit more thought into how it was set up would have been good, just so this kind of thing didn't happen to people," he said.

"I just want it put right for everybody's sake so it's fair. If it's fair, then may the best act win."

Ms McMullan said Womad was running a fair competition and that all invalid votes would be identified and deleted.

Only one entry from each email address is allowed, and voting closes on December 12. Go to womad.co.nz

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- Taranaki Daily News

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