Voter Fraud Steals the Senior Class Election

How does a class of 80 have 120 total votes?


Vice President Gillian McDonald

Elvira Garamy, Editor

Candidate Matteo D’Anello
Class President Gavin Acocelli

On September 24, Seniors at Sutton High were called down to the auditorium for a class officers election. There was only one spot up for debate–Vice President.

Candidates Gillian McDonald and Matteo D’Anello each gave a short but brief speech about what they intend to do as Vice President of the Class of 2022. Afterward, a Google Form was sent out to each student on the Google Classroom page to vote.

However, this election had an extraordinary turnout. Of a graduating class of 95 students, 80 of them are on Google Classroom, which means only 80 votes should be submitted. Instead, there were 120 votes submitted, with students finding a way to submit more than one vote for the same candidate.

After the votes came in, a recall was announced and everyone could vote once and only once this time. I asked class advisor Adam DeZago, Vice President Gillian McDonald, Vice President candidate Matteo D’Anello, Secretary Willem Edwards, and President Gavin Acocelli for their thoughts on this extensive voter fraud to get a better understanding of what went on that day.

I wanted to get straight to the point with my first question; has this happened before? I sat down with Mr. DeZago first. 

SUTTON HIGH NEWS: Has this happened at SHS before?

DEZAGO: Not to my knowledge, no. This is the first time that I’ve been aware of it. Could’ve it happened? Possibly, but when there are more votes than there are students in the class it’s very obvious that something is up.

SUTTON HIGH NEWS: Were you surprised?

DEZAGO: To be honest, yes, but afterward, you know there are people on both sides who said ‘I voted umpteen times for candidate one and umpteen times for candidate two’. It’s not like it was one side or one candidate who rallied all their friends to, you know, jump up the votes.

While Mr. DeZago was surprised by the outcomes, others were not. When asked the same question, Willem Edwards said the opposite of what Mr. DeZago had said.

EDWARDS: Not really, I kinda expected it. If there wasn’t a voting limit, people would do what they can to get their friends elected. 

SUTTON HIGH NEWS: Why do you think this happened?

EDWARDS: Cuz high schoolers are idiots and they just wanna have fun with it. They didn’t think they’d get caught.

Of course, there will be differences of views when you interview those who go to school with the seniors versus those who teach them, but the outcome regardless is shocking. I expected an extra 10 votes at most to make it look less suspicious, but 120 votes total is a little extensive, and for some, upsetting to see. In an email chain with Matteo D’Anello and Gavin Acocelli, they also had the same idea.

D’ANELLO: Suffice to say, I was not ok with it and should have encouraged my peers not to do that. I had a feeling that if the feature on the voting wasn’t changed to one vote per person, something funky would have happened (which it did).

ACOCELLI: It was unfortunate that a few individuals voted multiple times during the first voting period, but our advisor was able to quickly adjust the form in order to prevent this from happening again. The second voting period provided a fair and honest result. 

The second voting period was more fair and honest than the first one, but why was that? Shouldn’t the first voting period be the only voting period? I asked Mr. DeZago how future elections would be different, and here was his response:

DEZAGO: So, I had thought that most students not being signed in with their school accounts, the process would be simplified if I just said ‘just vote with whatever account you’re on’, but next time I’m gonna have to limit it to school accounts. I thought in the past we had tried it and there were a lot of questions like ‘it’s not letting me sign in’, ‘it says I need to request access or permission’. I thought I was avoiding issues, but I guess I was just making them. But it all worked out. People could revote and it was a pretty fluid process. I think it’s like ‘hey, try it again, sorry.’

Mr. DeZago had good intentions and faith in the students when sending out the Google Form the first time. The first results should not be blamed on him. If you want to point the finger simply to make a point, look around at your peers and ask them why they reloaded the forms and kept on submitting votes. 

After the 120 votes were rolled in, I wanted to hear what both candidates were thinking during that time. I sat down with Gillian McDonald and Matteo D’Anello to hear their thoughts on the 120 votes rolling in. 

SUTTON HIGH NEWS: What was your reaction to the 120 votes?

MCDONALD: I laughed, really thought it was actually a little funny. I almost kinda expected that something not weird but, you know, funny would happen like that. So I definitely laughed and I was like ‘oh my gosh we’re gonna have to do this all over again.’ I was a bit nervous after that. 

D’ANELLO: I was a bit baffled by the 120 votes. While I found it a bit humorous at first, I knew it would be a hassle to have a recount and have as much participation during the second round of voting compared to the first so I was not happy with the first election.

Something we can take away from the first election is that without a doubt it was humorous on both sides for everyone. I’m sure for some it will become one of those memories that stick around for a while or one of those things that happened in the past and is now in the past. 

After the first election, I  can’t say I was too surprised with the outcome. Knowing this Senior class and how dedicated they are to their friends, it was pretty obvious that something was bound to happen. I asked the two candidates what they thought about this, and their answers were pretty similar. 

SUTTON HIGH NEWS: Did you expect this to happen?

MCDONALD: I think I thought something would happen, I didn’t think it would be so much voting fraud. I thought that something was gonna try and make me like a class clown moment. 

D’ANELLO:  I did expect something like this to happen. I never endorsed anyone to vote for me more than once. But I thought that there would be an easy way to dispel multiple votes from an individual email account or the feature for only one vote per email to be turned on. Turns out that it was more complicated than that and that’s why we had to do a second, more secure, voting process.

As much fun as it might’ve been to vote multiple times for your friends, we have to remember that these candidates put time and effort into their campaigns. This was never a popularity contest, but a vote to pick the person who will provide fun events for the Senior class and run Senior activities. 

After the second election, I asked Gillian and Matteo how they felt afterward once there was a clear winner with no voter fraud. 

SUTTON HIGH NEWS: Were you shocked by the outcome?

MCDONALD: I think so. We found out after school, Matteo and I separately, so I think that I was a little nervous after the voting fraud happened because I was like ‘oh geez I’m probably gonna get wicked out voted now, cuz nobody’s gonna wanna revote, you know? Who wants to check their emails again.’ I think I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that I won.

D’ANELLO: I can’t say I was all that surprised by the final outcome since Mr. DeZago said that the race was closer than one would think. But I moved on surprisingly quickly from the whole situation. I had a big Cross Country race that weekend, went to the movies, and was seeing family on that Sunday. By the following Monday, I had felt that the whole election was like a week or two ago, not just a couple of days.

SUTTON HIGH NEWS: Anything final thoughts you want to say about the election?

MCDONALD: Fun time I guess. It was a good run and I appreciate everyone who voted for me and heard what I wanted to say from the speech and I appreciate Matteo’s kindness through it all. I think that he and I both were good to each other throughout the whole process. There was no ‘I’m gonna win and you’re gonna lose’ kind of thing, so I think I could appreciate that.

D’ANELLO: It went by pretty quickly and I’m happy with the results. She gave a much better and more cohesive speech than I did. I’m alright with admitting that. But in the end, life is very big. Life is life. I get NHS hours helping out for Student Government events now so I’m chilling. Happy to be apart of this class. All peace and love. 

In the end, how we got to our final candidate should only matter as long as it is a fair and balanced election, where everyone has the opportunity to vote and to vote once. Yes, it was funny seeing the total votes after the first election and hearing Mr. McCarthy call for a recount over the speakers, but we have to remember that each candidate wanted this election to be fair and not made into a mockery or a popularity contest. They are still our peers and should be treated with respect when it comes to something they are passionate about. I hope in the future we do not pin one candidate against the other and make a fool out of them to throw off the election. While it might seem like fun at the moment, voter fraud does more harm than good in the long run. 

I would like to thank everyone for allowing me to interview them and providing me the chance to answer my questions as directly as they could.