Judi Lapsley Miller, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

November 16, 2020; Washington Post and CNN

Despite claims of rampant voter fraud in the recent US presidential election, no evidence of such stuff has come to light so far. Still, it was a charge looking for a legitimate venue, so New Zealanders apparently took up the mantle, albeit in a race with what some would consider to be lower stakes.

A contest in New Zealand to choose, through a democratic vote, the Bird of the Year, has been tainted by massive voter fraud after a few years of irregularities. As votes were counted, the incumbent kakapo, a fat and endangered green parrot, appeared to be losing to the far tinier kiwi pukupuku until data analysts discovered that 1,500 votes had emanated from the same IPO address even after voters had been warned not to vote more than once. The fraudulent votes were immediately cast aside by officials.

“It’s lucky we spotted this little kiwi trying to sneak in an extra 1,500 votes under the cover of darkness!” Laura Keown, spokesperson for Bird of the Year, said in a statement last week, adding that officials did not “want to see any more cheating.”

Emma Rawson, the kiwi pukupuku’s campaign manager, said, “Voter fraud is not the Kiwi way” and urged people to tiny uphold the bird’s values of “democracy, fairness, equality, and honesty.”

The kiwi is iconic among the people of New Zealand and has been adopted as a national emblem. Famously, New Zealanders frequently refer to their compatriots as “Kiwis.” The kakapo was made infamous, in part, by a 10-year-old video of one trying to mate with the head of a zoologist who was invading his space.

Pundits had predicted another bird entirely as the winner, in that New Zealand’s antipodean albatross lead the polls in early voting. This year, however, there was no repeat of allegations of Russian interference in the race, which last year saw a disproportionate number of international votes cast.

The good news was, amongst all this contention, that it was the largest voter turnout for the race to date, with an estimated 55,000 casting ballots.—Ruth McCambridge