By Scott Simon and Emma Bowman, NPR
Evidence of election rigging has roiled New Zealand’s “Bird of the Year” competition after a case of ballot-box stuffing has threatened to derail avian democracy.
Suspicion began when organizers received more than 1,500 votes sent from the same email address early Monday — each vote was in favor of the little spotted kiwi (kiwi pukupuku), according to a statement from Forest & Bird, a conservation organization that runs the election.
“That is an amazing bird – it deserves all the support, but unfortunately these votes had to be disallowed and they’ve been taken out of the competition,” Forest & Bird spokeswoman Laura Keown told NPR’s Weekend Edition.
The annual event is more than just a bird popularity contest. The conservation group Forest & Bird runs the election-based competition to help raise awareness about New Zealand’s native bird species, many of which are endangered.