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Nickelodeon’s ‘Kids Pick the President’ election target of bot-driven interference

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‘Just as kids value honesty and fairness, so do we at Nickelodeon’

Biden vs Trump in Nickelodeon’s Kids Pick the President election special Image: Nickelodeon

Earlier this month, national security officials from the FBI announced that both Russian and Iranian operatives had obtained voter registration data in order to interfere in the U.S. elections. Similar to the tactics employed by Russia during the 2016 election, both countries reportedly hacked information that would aid in sowing doubt, and in at least one case, strike fear, in American voters. So far, there’s no evidence of actual tampering with the voting system itself — but the same can’t be said for Nickelodeon’s recent mock election.

On Wednesday night, Nickelodeon announced former Vice President Joe Biden was the winner of the 2020 Kids Pick the President “Kids’ Vote,” despite a bot-driven effort to cheat the results. According to the network, nearly 90,000 kids cast their virtual ballot in the poll, which ran from Oct. 20 to Oct. 26. Biden received 53% of the vote, while the incumbent, President Donald J. Trump, wound up with 47%.

But on Wednesday, Oct. 21, Nickelodeon employees overseeing the Kids’ Vote caught wind of an effort to corrupt the authenticity of the results. Murmurs on “online forums” laid out plans to pack the Kids Pick the President site with votes. Nickelodeon subsequently utilized a voter certification tool in order to weed out any bot-generated entries; in the end, more than 130,000 fraudulent votes were discovered.

“Though kids are not of an age to vote, Kids Pick the President is a platform where their voices do count, and they deserve to be heard,” a Nickelodeon representative said in a statement. “And just as kids value honesty and fairness, so do we at Nickelodeon. Therefore, out of respect for kids everywhere and in the spirit of civic responsibility, we present the name of the winner based on votes cast fairly and within our stated guidelines of one vote counted per household device.”

Nick’s Kids Pick the President vote has been held each year since 1988, and has correctly chosen the formally elected president six out of the eight last elections. Kids named Hillary Clinton their choice for the 2016 election, which ultimately went to Donald Trump. Unlike the presidential election, the Kids Pick the President vote is based on a popular vote.

The winner of the poll was announced on Nickelodeon’s special Nick News: Kids Pick the President. The episode will encore each day leading into the election at various times in the evening. The telecast is also be available for kids to watch via Nickelodeon on Demand, the Nick App and Nickelodeon’s YouTube Channel.

The actual U.S. election vote takes place on Nov. 3.