Ruby wins disputed Wildlife Center vote

And the winner is … well, more on that in a minute.

The big news with the online poll to name the newest environmental ambassador at the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro is that the effort was apparently hacked.

The votes – the legitimate ones, at least – eventually came down in favor of Ruby the Red-Tail. Ruby, a red-tailed hawk hit by a car in Dayton in February 2010, cannot return to the wild due to the severity of her injuries, and will travel with Wildlife Center staff to schools, libraries, and other public events and help share the steps that each of us can take to protect wildlife and the environment.

The Center in January asked local elementary schools to suggest a name, and came up with a list of 174 names that were later winnowed down to a final five. The polls opened online on Feb. 2 to pick the winner, but were closed on Feb. 19 after Center staff noticed irregularities, specifically robo-voting that cast more than 5,000 votes for the name Phoenix from a single overseas Internet service provider, including 3,021 in a six-hour period between midnight and 6 a.m. the morning of Feb. 19.

The purpose of the Center’s online contest was to seek the public’s views on the suggested names, especially from children, not to test computer hacking skills or the ability to rig an election. It’s unfortunate that someone takes pleasure from hacking into, and attempting to spoil, a contest in which so many schoolchildren and others have enjoyed participating,” Wildlife Center president and co-founder Ed Clark said.

Excluding the robo-votes, Ruby led the field with 35.3 percent of the legitimate votes cast, outpacing runner-up Twizzler, which received 25.6 percent.

Phoenix came in fourth with 15.3 percent once the robo-votes were discarded.

“The Wildlife Center is most grateful for the participation of local students and teachers and the more than 4,000 individuals who voted. And our appreciation is not diminished because a couple of people sought to cheat and spoil the contest,” Clark said.

Story by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at

uva basketball team of destiny

Team of Destiny: Inside UVA Basketball's improbable run

Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

augusta free press


Augusta Free Press content is available for free, as it has been since 2002, save for a disastrous one-month experiment at putting some content behind a pay wall back in 2009. (We won’t ever try that again. Almost killed us!) That said, it’s free to read, but it still costs us money to produce. The site is updated several times a day, every day, 365 days a year, 366 days on the leap year. (Stuff still happens on Christmas Day, is what we’re saying there.) AFP does well in drawing advertisers, but who couldn’t use an additional source of revenue? From time to time, readers ask us how they can support us, and we usually say, keep reading. Now we’re saying, you can drop us a few bucks, if you’re so inclined.

augusta free press
augusta free press news