A teen was accused of hacking into her high school’s computer system to vote for herself for homecoming queen.
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Emily Grover, an 18-year-old student at Tate High School Pensacola in Florida, is being charged as an adult and could face up to 16 years in prison if convicted for unauthorized use of technology.
The teen and her mother Laura Carroll are accused of casting a total of 246 fake votes for the homecoming queen election. Investigators said they found that 117 of the votes came from the same IP address that was traced to Carroll, according to a warrant affidavit obtained by ABC News.
Carroll worked as an assistant principal at Bellview Elementary School in Pensacola. She reportedly had authorized access to FOCUS, the district’s computer program that contains personal information about students, including their ID numbers, medical histories and test scores. The program also gives access to a third-party vendor called Election Runner, which students at Tate used to cast votes for homecoming court in October, according to ABC News.
Grover, who has since been suspended from her high school, allegedly used her mother’s FOCUS account to cast votes for herself using other students’ names, the outlet reported. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said that Grover and her mother accessed 372 high school records — most of which belonged to Tate — beginning August 2019, NBC News added.
As a result, the police department launched a four-month investigation into the incident, which ultimately led to the two women’s arrests in March. Both women have been charged with felony offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks and electronic devices.
According to an affidavit, Grover emailed the district superintendent, saying “I have never been in trouble but I was recently suspended for 10 days for unauthorized use of technology, for using my mom’s password and looking at information I should not have seen in FOCUS.”
Randall Etheridge, an attorney representing both women, told ABC News that he had filed a written not-guilty plea with the court and requested a jury trial. Both Carroll and her daughter are scheduled for an arraignment in Pensacola on May 14.