Berkeley High School administrator John Villavicencio discovered that a candidate for student government had hacked the vote in an effort to win the election.

Megan Goldsby/KCBS Radio

Candidate Disqualified For Blatant Vote Hacking — At Berkeley High School

Megan Goldsby
April 11, 2019 - 8:31 am

BERKELEY — A Berkeley High School student was disqualified from school elections after an administrator discovered conspicuous irregularities in the voting.

Votes to the online ballot came in at odd times and were being entered in alphabetical order of students' last names, said John Villavicencio, who spotted the hacking. 

"It was very easy to see," he said to KCBS Radio. "That sent up a ton of red flags." 

The boy running for office eventually confessed to manipulating the results, according to school officials. He and his running mate, who took part in the scheme, were disqualified. 

Manny Spicer, a Berkeley High senior, said he was really surprised by the scam. 

"It's a high school election and I didn't think anyone would really go through all of that effort to rig a high school election," Spicer said. "The person who did it preached free press and had very strong views about democracy in general, so that was really jarring for me to see that."

The case exposes a problem in Berkeley’s cyber security when it comes to student email accounts and their assigned passwords, which follows a simple pattern involving the student's ID number. Administrators urge the students to change their passwords to something unknowable by others. 

Spicer told KCBS Radio that he'd never reset his log-in information. 

The student candidate embroiled in the scandal gained access to the ID numbers through his work in leadership activities at school, according to Villavicencio. 

"It is similar to things on a national scale with politics," he said," where people have access and privilege."