Havre Daily News
Either there is no real controversy over where an enhanced-911 call center should be located in Hill County, or some culprits have been resting their hands too heavily on the mouse buttons of their computers.
An online poll on the Havre Daily News Web site, posted last Friday, asks readers if they think an emergency call center should be located at the Havre Police Department, the Hill County Sheriff's Office, or both. The two agencies have fought over the issue for close to five years, but according to the current result of the online poll, there is a clear winner - the city.
By Wednesday the poll had logged more votes than usual, said Havre Daily News Publisher Harvey Brock. About 250 had voted, compared with an average of 150 votes.
This morning it had collected 1,999 votes, heavily favoring the city location, 68 percent to 30 percent.
"The two sides were pretty even steven, then presto bango, and the city is winning by a large amount," Brock said today.
Ben Carter, a technician for the company that hosts the site, TownNews.com, offered two possible explanations.
If someone disabled a computer's cookies, which allows an Internet site to keep track of the computer's activity, that person could vote multiple times, Carter said. It's also possible a person could hack into the system and enter new results.
While the poll has received a spectacular number of participants, those numbers were not reflected in an increase in visitors to the Web site, Brock said.
"We always try to caution folks that these polls are not scientific," TownNews.com president Mark Wilson said today. "It's just to get discussion going."
Brock said he is disappointed that anyone would manipulate the poll.
Wilson said the problem has come up before and he is having his staff look into it, but it would be very difficult to track.
Wilson said he is assigning security personnel to investigate.