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How To Stack a Silly Internet Poll

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I’ve received several emails from readers who aren’t clear about how the Ron Paulians can stack internet polls. Here’s the explanation—it’s actually quite simple. (I’ll leave out some obscure technical details, and just give you the bare bones explanation.)

Most online polls, like the ones at CNN and MSNBC, don’t use IP addresses to block multiple votes. They set a cookie in the user’s browser; so to vote multiple times all you have to do is delete the cookie. Voila! Vote as often as you like.

Some polls use a combination of IP and cookie, or the IP address alone; for those it’s a little more difficult. But most of the IP addresses I’ve seen voting for Ron Paul at my site trace to universities, which commonly use a dynamic IP allocation method for the school’s ISP. So again, it’s very easy to vote multiple times, simply by clearing cookies, then logging off and back on to the system — which allocates a new IP address. You can also do this by using a dial-up account, which assigns a dynamic IP address from a pool of available addresses.

This is why no online poll can ever be considered reliable or scientific — it’s completely impossible to guarantee a person only votes once. And that’s why I often refer to them as “silly internet polls,” because they’re very easy to abuse the way the Paulians are doing.

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