Vote tampering may have been an effort to undermine ITIL

Head of ITSMF USA says probe continues into fraudulent voting during online election

The US chapter of the IT Service Management Forum may be getting closer to understanding why someone tampered with the voting in an online board of directors election that the organization held last fall.

Leah Palmer, president of the California-based ITSMF USA, is telling members that the voting fraud and the copying of what appears to have been the organization's entire member list off of a server may have been an attempt to "embarrass and undermine" the group.

Palmer said at the ITSMF USA's Fusion '07 conference here this week that the possible motive is based on information she has received from Kroll, a New York-based risk consulting firm hired earlier this year to investigate anonymous claims that the online election last October had been compromised.

Kroll is turning up evidence that suggests a few people were involved in the fraudulent voting effort, Palmer said. There is a "distinct possibility" that the identities of the perpetrators will be uncovered as part of the investigation, she added.

The ITSMF USA, which is part of an international organization that promotes the adoption of standards such as the IT Infrastructure Library, learned last spring that the election may have been tampered with, although the source of those claims has yet to be positively identified.

In July, Palmer said that Kroll had given ITSMF USA officials "clear evidence" that a handful of votes were recorded as being cast by people who didn't actually vote. But the number of fraudulent votes didn't appear to be large enough to change the outcome of the election.

The current board recently asked ITSMF USA members to vote again on giving it a mandate to continue running the organization. Nearly 750 votes were cast, and 82% of them were "yes" votes, according to Palmer. The group has about 8,000 members, but only about half of them are eligible to vote in elections because of differing membership levels, she said.

The member list that was copied from an ITSMF USA system includes the names, street and e-mail addresses, and employer names of the group's members.

The list likely was copied last year prior to the board election, and it was contained in a spreadsheet sent to Computerworld earlier this year -- apparently to establish the authenticity of the anonymous sources who were making the voting fraud claims. At the time, the sources said they had obtained evidence of fraudulent voting but didn't have a clear idea of why someone tried to tamper with the election results.

Palmer said she hopes to resolve the election issue before her term as president ends in December. She added that if the organization learns who was behind the fraudulent voting, its response could range from doing nothing to taking legal action.

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