Students at a Southern California high school got a lesson in political corruption after it was revealed that a faculty adviser rigged the election for class president and two other races.
In an email last week to parents, the principal of Vista Murrieta High said the company that handled ballot counting confirmed fraudulent votes made online changed the outcome of elections for 2019 president, 2019 secretary and 2018 president.
"This is a very unfortunate and disappointing situation, and I regret the impact it has had on the students involved and the student body as a whole," Principal Mick Wager wrote.
District officials would not identify the adviser who took responsibility for manipulating the votes at the school located near Temecula. The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported Tuesday that "the person had held the job for about a year."
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The adviser has stepped down from the position of Associated Student Body Director, but officials did not say whether the person was fired or placed on leave.
The motive is unknown. No students or other staff members were involved.
"Students who had earlier been announced as the winners of the three races will still be allowed to participate" in the school's student government program — "which has been honored on the state and national level in recent years — in different roles," reported the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
Officials said new policies are in place to prevent a repeat of the tampering.
The newspaper reported that a parent "helped uncover the vote discrepancies after getting information showing voting results that included the time the vote was cast and the IP address used to access the voting company’s website."
Many of the votes, parent Wade Sine said, "were made at 10:30 p.m. or later, in 40-second increments, by someone who appeared to be going down a list alphabetically and voting for certain candidates," the newspaper reported. "Sine said the school should redo this year’s election in case there were other fake votes that weren’t caught during the audit."