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BOE Member Calls Poll Voting "Unethical"
Tuesday, 06 October 2009

October 6--  A Montgomery County school board member says it's "unethical" for school employees to use school computers to voice their opinions regarding construction of a new county school.

Last week Vidalia Communications discontinued a people's poll on its community portal, www.southeastgeorgiatoday.com, after it became apparent school computers were filing multiple votes which could skew results of the poll.  The Georgia Department of Education confirmed responses were filed   from computers in Montgomery County schools, and also from computers in the school systems of Appling, Jeff Davis, Treutlen, Toombs and Wheeler counties.

Board member Deloris James of Alston, who voted against building a new school because of current economic conditions, says how employees vote at home on their own time is their business.  However, she feels using school equipment to vote while on school time is wrong.  

"Do you believe it is ethical for an employee of this system to use a school computer to vote on something that is directly involving this county, especially where there is as much concern and division about the building of this school? I just think its highly unprofessional and unethical," she said at Monday night's school board meeting.

School Superintendent Dr. Lynn Batten says he instructed employees to cease voting on school computers after Mrs. James brought her concerns to his attention.

She also quoted from computer logs provided by Vidalia Communications which showed a computer owned by the wife of school board member Jackson Posey, who lives in Roberta, voted multiple times over a two-day period.  

Posey's wife confirmed to us she voted "maybe 30 to 40 times," and said she was unaware poll respondents are limited to only one vote. 

Computer logs show a computer in Roberta voted 795 times in rapid succession in favor of building the school.  Nita Crump, Posey's wife, says she doesn't have enough computer smarts to do that.

The portal's computer consultant, Red Wheeler, has an idea on how it might have been done.   "It absolutely had all of those votes, not all of them, but a lot of them at one second and the next second there would be a bunch more and then the next second and so on.  So they used some sort of script.  Now there may be another way of doing it, but I found two scripts very readily on Google.  You can go to Google and type in some like poll flood script and people have figured out how to do this," Wheeler said.

Meanwhile, the only votes that really count will be made November 3rd when Montgomery County voters go to the polls to vote in the bond referendum to build a new county middle-high school.



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