The ViacomCBS network says it detected more than 100,000 fraudulent votes in the informal ballot.
The ugliness of real world politics has trickled down to an informal presidential poll of kids sponsored by Nickelodeon.
The ViacomCBS cable network said the online poll, part of its Kids Pick the President special that aired Tuesday night, was targeted by bots. The poll was designed to record one vote per household device, so that multiple kids and other family members in the same home could cast their virtual ballots.
Nickelodeon says it detected cheating in the poll on Oct. 21, the day after it opened, when online forums began "discussing corrupting the Kids Pick the President site with fraudulent votes." The network ultimately found and discarded some 130,000 bot-generated votes.
"We know you depend on Nick for fairness and honesty so we wanted to be honest with you," an offscreen narrator says during the special. "As we conducted our vote, our tech wizards at Nick discovered some cheating and were able to eliminate the unfair votes from our count. After lots of vetting, we feel super confident in our results."
Of the 90,000 verified votes cast in the non-scientific poll, Democratic nominee Joe Biden beat President Donald Trump by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent.
"Though kids are not of an age to vote, Kids Pick the President is a platform where their voices do count, and they deserve to be heard," the network said in a statement. "And just as kids value honesty and fairness, so do we at Nickelodeon. Therefore, out of respect for kids everywhere and in the spirit of civic responsibility, we present the name of the winner based on votes cast fairly and within our stated guidelines of one vote counted per household device."
Hosted by Keke Palmer, Nick News: Kids Pick the President spotlights activists Zoë Jenkins, founder of a DEI initiative in her Kentucky high school; Mari Copeny of Flint, Michigan, who has been active in raising awareness about her hometown's water crisis; and Jerome Foster II, founder and executive director of OneMillionOfUs, an international youth organization that mobilizes young voters.
The special also features appearances by Tyra Banks, Nicole Byer, Miranda Cosgrove, Stephen Curry, Liza Koshy, Peyton List, Kel Mitchell, Usher, and cast members from Nick's Group Chat, Unfiltered, The Astronauts and Danger Force, among others.
Nickelodeon's "Kids Vote" initiative has conducted informal polls of kids for every presidential election since 1988. The kids' poll has correctly predicted the winner six of eight times.