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'Online polls aren't scientific': Globe and Mail editor

A Globe and Mail editor responded to questions about an online poll being manipulated by saying the national newspaper never claimed the results were scientific.

Supporters of the Tsilhqot'in National Government who are opposed to the Prosperity Mine proposal that would destroy Tetzan Biny, or Fish Lake, this week said the voting pattern in the Globe and Mail's poll about the mine suggested someone was using a computer program to add thousands of votes at a time, The Tyee reported.

“The online poll you cite is not scientific, nor do we say that it is,” wrote Jim Sheppard, the Globe and Mail website's executive editor, in an email message. “That's true of any online poll on any website.”

“That's a little bit dismissive of the concerns, don't you think?” asked Susan Smitten a filmmaker and executive director of the group Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs. She said she'd asked the paper to investigate. “[The response] is better than what we've had. We've had nothing.”

Another 3,000 'yes' votes were added starting after 1 a.m. on Wednesday, she said. The rest of the time the poll's been open the votes have accumulated much slower, she said. “The Yes side appears to have averaged single digit votes per hour in between these vote dumps.” There were fewer than 300 votes over the weekend and "hardly any" after Tuesday night's surge, she added. *

“It seems awfully systematic to me,” she said. “Statistically it seems highly improbable.”

While the poll obviously isn't credible, she said, she wasn't sure if people understand that. “Does the public get that? Do the politicians who haven't yet made a decision, do they get it? We don't know.”

She added, “I would be somewhat dismayed if public opinion was being forged on a poll like this.”

* Pace of voting figures clarified, 2:22 p.m. Oct. 28.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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