When homecoming queen Emily Grover won her crown, she claims she never expected that she and her mother, former elementary school vice principal Laura Carroll, would each be facing 16 years behind bars.
But that’s exactly what Carroll, 50, and Grover, 17, are facing. Not only did Carroll lose her job, but Grover’s college dreams have been shattered after her admission to the University of Western Florida was revoked in the scandal.
What initially seemed like a case of casting fake ballots to rig an election has turned into a national sensation that has rocked the small town of Cantonment, Florida.
Why Are Grover And Carroll Facing Jail Time?
Carroll, the former vice-principal of the local elementary school, had log-in access that allowed her to see privileged information about other students, including their grades and absences.
The Daily Beast interviewed several classmates close to Grover to try to get to the bottom of what really happened.
According to one girl, “I have known that Emily Grover logs into her mom’s [sic] account to access grades and test scores since freshman year when we became friends. She has looked up my student ID before in order to tell me what I got on my FST and ACT… She looks up all of our group of friends’ grades and makes comments about how she can find out our test scores all of the time.”
The data breach has made many parents uncomfortable. One mother commented, “As a mother of a Tate graduate, one that is an upcoming senior and another an incoming freshman, I’m livid that [Carroll] gave her snot nosed brat of a daughter access to MY child’s records! I feel as violated as I would if she worked in the medical field and violated HIPAA!”
But how does viewing grades and absences factor into the homecoming scandal?
The Pair Allegedly Cast Fake Ballots To Rig The Election
Emily Grover and Laura Carroll can lose 16 years of their lives because they hacked a prom election. Sorry but who cares? What a ridiculous and embarrassing scenario for the American Justice System. Would it not make more sense to suspend the two? https://t.co/H3ZHleiOW5
— Dylan Matson (@dylan0matson) May 5, 2021
According to investigators, Grover allegedly obtained students’ ID numbers and birthdays through her mother’s log-in information and then cast 246 fake votes for the teen on her cell phone and a home computer. The school’s homecoming election poll is run through the third-party app Election Runner.
Although one investigator discovered that 124 votes came from the IP address of Carroll’s cell phone between 8 p.m. and 2. a.m., there were 122 more votes that supposedly came from a computer in Carroll’s home.
However, their lawyer Randy Etheridge disputes this claim, insisting, “There’s not one human being that can say definitively that it came from this IP address.”
However, this raises more questions than it answers. A tech forensics expert discovered that 124 votes linked to her cellphone were cast in a 20-minute time frame, which is “not humanly possible,” which means that a technical glitch might have occurred.
The 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. time frame is also questionable: apparently, the app has generated reports based on multiple time zones.
To make the case even stranger, Grover didn’t need to cheat to win. Court documents support the claim that Grover still won the majority, even if all of the questionable votes weren’t counted.
The pair could have passed on the option to serve time behind bars if they pled guilty to a no-jail plea agreement; however, both have maintained their innocence and refused, insisting they had nothing to do with the alleged fraud.
“So many people said, ‘She’ll let the kid take the rap’ or ‘The kid will get off’—everybody’s got their predictions,” Carroll said. “I don’t know why I care so much about people who don’t know me. It doesn’t matter; they all already think we’re guilty.”
She added, “The truth will rise. I think it will.”