By Todd Northrop
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico was forced to put their Lucky Dog Photo Contest on a leash yesterday when it was determined that some entrants were piling on extra votes.
Between Jan. 4 and Jan. 23, dog owners were able to submit photos of their dogs to the New Mexico Lottery. Entry was free, and the top 25 photos, based on public voting, will be finalists. The New Mexico Lottery will select six of those finalists to appear on a new line of scratch card tickets.
The "Lucky Dog" game, scheduled to launch in May, will feature top prizes of $10,000.
There were a total of 4,700 eligible entries submitted before the Jan. 23 deadline. Voting was opened to the public starting this past Monday, Jan. 24, and will end on Feb. 4 at noon.
Soon after voting started, the lottery, as well as some of the entrants, started getting hot under the collar when it became apparent that there was a dog-pile of votes forming on some of the entrants. It is against the rules of the contest for a person to vote on a photo more than once.
To muzzle the fraudulent voting, the lottery began requiring people to register with the lottery's Web site before being able to cast their vote.
It's not clear if the dog owners with the over-abundance of votes will be in the dog house, or if they will be allowed to stay in the contest. Either way, the contest has a new leash on life, as the voting has reportedly evened out after registration was instituted.
Votes recorded prior to 12:38 p.m. on Jan. 25 will be cast to the curb in order to ensure that only proper votes are counted.
Letter from the Top Dog
Tom Romero, CEO of the New Mexico Lottery, issued the following letter in response to the doggone controversy:
As you may have noticed, at noon on Jan. 25, we asked people to register to vote. This was in response to our own observations, as well as feedback from contest participants, that a few voters appeared to be breaking contest rules to vote repeatedly and frequently.
After setting up registration, the voting irregularities subsided. This means that some votes cast at the start of voting were invalid and gave a few entries an unfair advantage.
As a result, we will count only those votes made after 12:38 p.m., Jan. 25.
Unfortunately, the activities of a few have impacted many. We apologize for the interruption and frustration. Our goal is to promote a fair contest for you and protect the Lottery's beneficiary, the Legislative Lottery Scholarship program.
Thank you for your understanding and your tremendous enthusiasm to the Lucky Dog Photo Contest.
Sincerely, Tom Romero, CEO