NDP may be able to identify source of voting attack

Voting on the next NDP leader was extended half an hour as online voting problems stalled some party members.

The NDP may be able to identify the source of an outside attack that jammed its online voting system and created delays that plagued voting for the party's leadership, the party's president says.

Rebecca Blaikie told Radio-Canada that the party has the IP addresses suspected in the online attack. An IP address is a number assigned to an internet connection that may be able to point the party to the perpetrator.

Senior party official Brad Lavigne said the system was not hacked and the integrity of votes cast has not been compromised. But the attack delayed third-round voting when the system had to be restarted, he said.

"The only thing they were able to achieve was a little delay," Lavigne said. "There is someone outside the system who is attempting to mess up our system."

The NDP was temporarily forced to shut down voting in its leadership race Saturday as the site hosting the party's online ballot was overwhelmed.

The system of voting stations at the convention centre —where 4,600 members are registered — moved slowly, leading to long lines and, eventually, a total shutdown.

Party officials responded by extending the ballot to 4:40 p.m. ET for members at the convention centre, with anyone outside unable to cast a ballot. Voting was opened at 4:40 p.m. ET and run until 5:40 p.m. ET for those outside the Toronto convention centre.

A party spokeswoman initially said the servers were overloaded.

"The number of people visiting the site is large," Sally Housser said earlier Saturday. "We're trying to identify the problem now."

Housser said there was a little bit of a delay in the first round of voting that ended at 9 a.m. ET Saturday. For the third round, the computers at the convention centre kept freezing, so they were shut down to make corrections possible, she said. By the end of the afternoon, the party hadn't had any reports of people who couldn't vote.

The party had talked up its plan to let members vote on their smart phones, but those devices were also hit by the slow-moving site.

Voting was down for about 20 minutes and seemed to be moving again just before 4 p.m.

On the second round of voting, which started at 11 a.m., the party had to extend voting twice to accommodate the technical issues and released the results just before 2 p.m. ET.

The third round delays meant the results of that ballot weren't released until after 6 p.m., when many Canadians' attention turns to NHL hockey. Senior NDP officials had said they hoped to have a winner before Saturday night's games. The third ballot knocked Nathan Cullen out of the running, leaving Brian Topp and Thomas Mulcair to face off.

Members started reporting problems after voting opened at 11 a.m. ET, tweeting their frustrations.

A British Columbia woman who tweets as Diana Twiss wrote on the social media site that it was hard to work through the process.

"Been trying for the last 25 minutes, get to different stages in the process, but haven't yet been able to finalize vote," she wrote on Twitter.

Voting was extended by half an hour to allow for the slowdown, but the website reportedly locked down at the original 12:15 p.m. ET anyway, according to reports from members.

It had to be extended again, this time until 1:15 p.m. ET, because of that problem.

Housser said the party had sent an email to members to tell them of the delay and that they had people available to answer technical questions by phone.

Voter turnout has been low so far in the race to replace Jack Layton, who died of cancer last August. Just over 65,000 members out of 131,000 eligible New Democrats voted in the first round, or 49 per cent.