San Marino: Giovanni Montalbano wins second wildcard amid questions of “voter fraud”


The second wildcard for San Marino’s 1 in 360 competition came to an end with a final, frantic rush of votes last night. In the end, Giovanni Montalbano from Italy has claimed the spot, and a guaranteed place in the final ten.

Not much is known about Giovanni, but his YouTube account highlights a number of covers.

But Giovanni’s win comes amidst some claims that a significant amount of “voter fraud” may have tainted the competition.

1 in 360 — Giovanni Montalbano

Giovanni achieved a staggering 388,712 votes by the end of the second wildcard period. For reference, that’s over 11 times the population of San Marino (as of 2016)!

Perhaps more impressive is that this wave of support for Giovanni seemed to come quite suddenly at the end of voting. As of 13:30 CET on Friday (December 8), Giovanni was outside of the top 19 acts. This meant he had less than 3,263 votes.

Obviously, over 385,000 people suddenly felt compelled to support the otherwise unknown Italian singer, in his quest to represent San Marino.

It’s particularly impressive given other figures. As of 12:30 CET on Monday, December 11, Giovanni’s entry on the 1 in 360 YouTube channel has just under 10,000 views.

1 in 360 responds to “fraud” questions about vote

Giovanni isn’t the only candidate whose numbers shot up towards the end of voting, however. A video uploaded to YouTube shows former wildcard leader Gloria Zaccaria’s votes going up by thousands every time the page is refreshed.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see some contestants get a late surge of votes, especially as the wildcard vote was so close. The sheer numbers involved, however, have led some people to question the validity of the vote.

Before the close of the wildcard period, however, 1 in 360 were already responding to claims of “fraud”. In a statement on their Facebook page, 1 in 360 admitted that some acts had gained “tens of thousands of votes in a short period of time”, and that this “may look suspicious”.

The statement further reads:

“There’s very little we, as organizers, can do to prevent fraud in a free social media vote. Some of the same singers who’ve achieved a large number of votes on our website also garnered tens of thousand of views and/or likes on YouTube. This shows the difficulty of policing the process.

While it’s technically possible to identify multiple votes from the same IP address, it becomes very messy to distinguish legitimate artists from those who, for example, purchase bulk votes from a botnet operator (which is easy to do).

Keep in mind that ultimately we’re looking for the “internet candidate”. Given that, it’s only natural that one wild card should be decided by the internet, with all the good and bad things that this entails. If any of you objects to the results, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to do so during the live shows.

In the meantime, we’d ask that you give all candidates a fair chance.”

And having announced Giovanni as the wildcard winner, it seems 1 in 360 are happy with his result. He joins Fan Club wildcard winner, Emma Sandstrom, as one of the ten finalists moving on.

The third wildcard — guaranteed to be a Sammarinese act — will be revealed soon. Then it’s in the hands of the judges to decide the remaining seven finalists.

What do you think about Giovanni’s victory? Do you think his support can carry him to overall victory? Let us know all your thoughts in the comments section below!

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