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'Well over 10,000' computers used in attack on NDP leadership vote

Delegates line up to vote as technical difficulties cause lengthy delays at the NDP leadership convention in Toronto on March 24, 2012.(

Kevin Van Paassen/Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

The company that organized the electronic voting system at the NDP leadership convention is now blaming an orchestrated attack involving tens of thousands of computers for the delays that marred the election of a new party leader.

While only a few thousand NDP members chose to use the electronic voting system on Saturday, the website was hit by hundreds of thousands of Internet requests that "jammed up the pipe," Scytl Canada said in a news release.

"Well over 10,000 malevolent IP addresses (computers) have been identified so far, as having generated many hundreds of thousands of false voting requests to the system," said the company, which is headquartered in Spain.

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Scytl Canada said the attackers used computers around the world, but mainly in Canada, to conduct the "distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack."

The company added the actual results of the vote were not compromised as its experts protected the integrity of the process. A large majority of NDP voters opted to mail in their ballots or vote electronically ahead of the convention.

Thomas Mulcair won on the fourth ballot, with his victory coming after 9 o'clock Saturday night. Had everything gone according to plan, Mr. Mulcair's victory should have been announced in late afternoon, which would have generated more media attention.

Because of the delays, many members had already left the convention hall ahead of Mr. Mulcair's victory speech.

"We deeply regret the inconvenience to NDP voters caused by this malicious, massive, orchestrated attempt to thwart democracy," Scytl Canada general manager Susan Crutchlow said.

"We are proud, however, that our robust system, which is used by many governments around the world, repelled this attack, did not crash, and completed its mission of giving all NDP members who wished to vote the opportunity to do so securely."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Daniel Leblanc studied political science at the University of Ottawa and journalism at Carleton University. He became a full-time reporter in 1998, first at the Ottawa Citizen and then in the Ottawa bureau of The Globe and Mail. More

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