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AT&T may have influenced American Idol final vote

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Telecom giant AT&T stands accused of attacking the very foundations of American suffrage after allegedly tainting the results of the country's largest democratic election - voting for American Idol.

The New York Times has reported that AT&T - one of the show's largest corporate sponsors to the US edition of Pop Idol - helped ease series winner Kris Allen to victory by providing free text messaging and "power texting" lessons at parties organized by Allen fans in his home state of Arkansas.

There are no reports of similar parties and free voting services held for runner-up, Adam Lambert who many had figured was a sure series winner in last week's final.

Stung by the claims over this alleged ravaging of Lady Liberty, and the potential cloud this might cast over the show for tween and teen viewers and - by extension - the advertisers targeting them, the show's broadcaster Fox has responded by stating it's "absolutely certain" the outcome was not unfairly influenced.

"We have an independent third-party monitoring procedure in place to ensure the integrity of the voting process. In no way did any individuals unfairly influence the outcome of the competition," Fox reportedly said.

AT&T also released a statement asserting a few local Arkansas employees were invited to attend the parties and were "caught up by the enthusiasm."

It is unclear whether the extra votes could have affected Idol's outcome, because the gap in votes separating the winner and loser of the final is not publicized.

Not only does a shaky claim to being America's one true musical zenith mean bad news for Idol sponsors like Ford and Coke who have put millions into promoting the show, it may also call into question the country's other top democratic institutions including America's Sexiest Baby, Who Wants to Date an Accountant?, USA's Got Puppies and regional competitions for World's Greatest Grandma. ®

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