17-year-old Blows Whistle on Rigged Election

17-year-old Jacob Bigham became a victim of the classic “shoot the messenger” response to whistleblowers. The Troy High School junior from Orange County, California, tapped into the school’s database after he overheard a computer technician giving the password to a school administrator. For that he was suspended five days and barred from becoming student body vice president.

The Orange County Register has been tracking the story since July. The incident began April 23rd when Bigham came forward with what he had found on the database: The school’s Associated Student Body Advisor, Jenny Redmond, had altered election results to block Ryan Daliwal from becoming the next year’s president and Bigham from becoming vice president.

When Bigham uncovered the election irregularity, he met with Assistant Principal Shane York and told him the whole story. He was suspended the next day.

Bigham protested:

The implications of what I did vs. what she did are not on par with each other. I feel changing the results of an election has far more gravity than finding out by whatever means that someone did that.

Students were incensed that a supposedly democratic process had been rigged. Although the school reserves the right to “administrative review” of election results, students saw the overturning of their choices as interference.

After the election altering was made public, principal Margaret Buchan reinstated the students’ actual choices. While acknowledging Redmond had acted incorrectly, Buchan told the Orange County Register:

Ms. Redmond is not evil and awful she was a very dedicated, hard-working individual prior to this incident, and through it all, she’s remained a kind, caring and hard-working teacher.

In the glare of public scrutiny after the Orange County Register’s July article, school district officials re-opened an investigation of the controversy. According to the August 20 Register:

The district concluded Monday that some Troy staffers had been under the mistaken belief that Troy’s student-government constitution granted administrators the unilateral authority to alter the results of student voting.

Consequently, the district’s code of ethics for the teaching profession was violated, as was the district’s moral and civic values code, the district said.
Bigham and Daliwal will both be student body officers this school year. Redmond will still be in the classroom.

Although Redmond sounds like a fine teacher and a good person, she crossed an ethical line in overturning the student election. Bigham’s raid on the school’s database and the subsequent furor has taught students a civics lesson they will likely remember long after they have forgotten classroom lectures.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock


Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra4 years ago

Thank you Cathryn, for Sharing this!

Jane R.
Jane R5 years ago

Lee W. I agree with you 100% This teacher should have been fired. She sets a bad example for the students.
I tried to send a green star, but couldn't, since I did recently.

Michael M.
Michael M5 years ago

Orange Country is about as Red as you can get in a Real Blue State. Of course they are going to be experts in rigging an election as they are probably getting help from Repukes :p

Lee Witton
5 years ago

Well I would bet she is a Democrat because she's a top student, doesn't back down from her heartfelt convictions, and doesn't let adversity deter her from moving forward. She's not an apologist, she's a go get 'er. Good for her!

.5 years ago

I bet she is a Democrat!

Stanley Rampersad
Stanley Balgobin5 years ago

Attention !!! The GOP $100 million KOCHroach and Adelson finance plans the same fate come November 2012 for the General Elections. Unless Obama get 98% of the vote, the elections are already rigged to ensure a Repugliscum victory. Karl Rove the master of Deception who stole them 2000 elections for the clown Geore W Bush is the trainer for the scam.

Jennifer S.
Jennifer S.5 years ago

Tampering with votes is wrong regardless of how important or not important the vote is for. Next they will be asking for I.D.'s for a student election

Lee Witton
5 years ago

I find this interference by Redmond rising to the level of fraud. If we say it is okay in a high school election, we say it is okay in any election. She should be fired and I am appalled that she has not been. Tampering with any voting system is fraud and it sends a horrid message to the student body, many of whom will be voting before long.

Donald B.
Donald B5 years ago

This behavior by the teacher assuming she knows what is best for the students is analogous to some in politics who lie to their constituents for their better good. I am referencing the two most prominent, arrogant, examples of telling lies for the good of the general population: I am making the Romney/Ryan plan for America the example for some who think they know what is best for the 98% while pandering and proffering for the 2%.

Pamela Tracy
Pamela Tracy5 years ago