An online election held by last fall by the IT Service Management Forum's US chapter was compromised by fraudulent voting, according to a preliminary finding by a consulting firm that was hired earlier this year to investigate the matter.

Leah Palmer, president of the ITSMF USA, said the California-based group now has “clear evidence” that fraudulent votes were cast in the election, which was held to fill five seats on the chapter's board of directors.

At this point, ITSMF USA officials don’t think there were enough illegitimate votes to change the results of the election, Palmer said. But she added that more fraudulent voting may turn up as consulting firm Kroll continues its investigation.

Even if Kroll’s final report determines that the amount of fraud wasn’t enough to affect the election's outcome, a decision to hold a new election is possible, according to Palmer. “That’s still something we’re considering,” she said.

The ITSMF USA, which is part of an international organisation that promotes the adoption of standards such as the IT Infrastructure Library, received information earlier this year from an anonymous source who claimed that last October’s board election had been rigged.

The source, whose identity still has yet to be confirmed, included a list of 15 people who supposedly didn’t vote but were recorded as having done so. That information is largely accurate, Kroll reported in its preliminary findings.

Palmer said the New York-based consulting firm reached nine of the 15 people whose names were on the list provided by the anonymous source. Eight of them told Kroll that they didn’t vote in the election. Altogether, Kroll contacted 52 listed voters, particularly people who were recorded as having voted after midnight. Palmer said the additional contacts added to the count of fraudulent votes, which now stands at 13. A total of about 500 people voted in the election.

The ITSMF USA wants to get a final report from Kroll by the end of next month, in time for its annual conference in September. Also, Kroll has been asked to discover who was behind the fraud and apparently gained access to the group's systems to pull it off.

“It may never be possible to do that,” Palmer said, adding that the ITSMF USA’s hosting provider only kept the IP addresses of voters for two months after the election. But, she said, there will be ongoing efforts, which she didn’t want to detail, to try to determine exactly what happened.