The curious case of the Saab ownership poll

I posted a poll earlier today asking readers who they consider would be the best owner for Saab out of the candidates believed to be left in the running.
The results have predictably fallen Koenigsegg’s way, with Renco pulling in a strong win in the separate, second place poll. It seems the Chinese aren’t favoured by anyone.
But the voting has been far from smooth and the voting patterns certainly raise a few eyebrows.
Here’s the results as of right now:
As you can see, that’s a rather large 64% to Koenigsegg with one quarter of votes suggesting that the whole process should be stopped and re-commence anew.
Notice I said “votes” and not “voters”.
This whole poll is somewhat stuffed by the fact that it’s organised by Google and I have no ability to restrict voting to one vote per IP address. This leaves the vote open to corruption and this poll is quite likely to be as thoroughly corrupted as an African politician.
The thing that really raised my curiosity was that “start again” vote. We may not be totally happy with all the available candidates at the moment, but I see every comment that gets posted on this site via email and I know that sentiments have not been running this way to this degree. There are not one full quarter of commenters at this site who think that Saab, being this close to being released from a soon-to-be-bankrupt GM, should drag out the process for another 4-6 months to get a result that will most likely be the same as the one we’ve got now.
So I looked into it.

Whilst Google don’t give me IP restriction, they do give me a spreadsheet full of time-stamped voting records.
First, to the voter trends….
This was the position of the vote at around 1pm today, Tassie time. That’s around 9pm in central US time and 5am in Sweden. The poll had been running for around 3 hours.
Early Responses.jpg
As you can see, the “start again” vote has a rather large 44% of the vote at that time.
Here’s the situation around 9 hours later, around 10pm Tassie time, 6am in the middle of the US, and 2pm in Sweden.
Latest Responses.jpg
As you can see, while the US has been sleeping, the vote for the “start again” crowd has dropped to just 24% of the vote.
In the first 3 hours of the poll there were 104 votes suggesting they start from scratch and in the next NINE hours there were just another 40 more.
Sounds suspicious to you, too?
Well, on to the time-stamped voting, then. As I sift through the early section of the voting spreadsheet, I can see multiple instances where voting like this has occurred:
That’s eight votes for the “start again” option within the space of a minute and a half. The last such instance of this cluster voting for this particular option happened about 90 minutes later, at 12.27pm Tassie time (9.27pm in central US and 4.27am in Sweden).
As mentioned above, the voting was dominated mostly by Koenigsegg for the next nine hours, with this option receiving only 40 votes in that time.
Then, around 9.45pm here in Tassie (5.45am in the US and 1.45pm in Sweden), we see the cluster voting start again:
So what does it all mean?
Well, basically it means that insecure polling software will produce unreliable results, no matter how sincerely you ask people not to stuff the vote.
Now, with TS and SU’s record in online polling (we’ve skewed a few online polls on other sites to get Saab some recognition in the past), I shouldn’t be one to complain. And I’m not complaining. I’d rather explain.
But with that explanation over and done, I should let you know that I’m installing some more reliable polling software in the next few days and once it’s configured, we’ll do this again and compare the results. No software is foolproof, but if someone really wants to go to all that trouble for a stupid internet poll, the results of which have little bearing, then so be it. I’ll chance it.
My thanks to all for participating, even the ballot stuffers. It was the ballot stuffing that really gave me something to talk about here.
Koenigsegg were always going to win this poll, but the manner in which it happened and the side show provided some unexpected entertainment.
In the time it’s taken for me to put this entry together, there have been another 32 responses and just under 50% of those have been for the “start again” option.

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