How To Rig An American Election

November 1st, 2018 | T. Carter
rig american election

America's electoral system is one of the most sturdy, sound and trusted electoral systems in the world. Talk of rigged elections is usually nothing more than political fear-mongering and sour grapes. No matter what they try to tell you, America's system is notoriously difficult to rig. What makes America's electoral system almost un-riggable is how ballots and vote counting are controlled, managed and arranged on a state-by-state and county level. Each state—and sometimes each county and jurisdiction—is responsible for managing how votes are cast and counted. This autonomized and compartmentalized system makes rigging a national election in one candidate's favor almost impossible. However, with the right connections and influence, there could be a few risky ways to illegally flip a presidential election in America.

Stuffing And Destroying Ballots In Key, Swing State Counties

When Americans think of the 2000 presidential election, they are often reminded of Broward County in Florida. Even in the 2016 presidential election, Broward was one of the last counties to report results on election night—much to the dismay of Trump supporters who had spent hours waiting for media to finally declare Florida for Trump.

In 2000, when all was said and done, Bush won Florida by 537 votes following the suspension of a court-ordered, hand recount of ballots. What made Broward County so unique in 2000 was its system of voting and “hanging chads”. The chad system requires voters to punch holes in their ballots and when voters fail to punch a complete hole, or when they punch a hole outside of the lines, it results in confusion and something called hanging chads—or votes that cannot clearly be determined. This was what put Broward County in the headlines during a 36 day recount in Florida.

In 2000 and 2016, Florida was a swing state. As we saw in 2000, an extra 500 votes could be enough to make or break a candidate's presidency.

Allegations of voter fraud made headlines in 2016, when the Florida Republican Party accused Broward County's election supervisor, Brenda Snipes, of illegally opening and sorting through thousands of absentee ballots. As Trump supporters remember, Broward County was the last county in Florida to be declared. Late into the evening, after all of Florida's key counties had been called, Broward County was still missing in action.

The deep blue county was eventually called for Clinton by a large margin of 66-31 percent.

Many Trump supporters like myself remember looking over to our friends and saying something like, “Broward must have realized there are too many Trump votes in Florida, so they gave up trying to rig the whole thing.”

Remembering how Bush had won Florida with 537 votes, one cannot help but think that maybe, just maybe, election officials in deeply Democratic Broward were, in fact, waiting to see if they could swing Florida's overall results in Clinton's favor. When they realized there was no possible way for them to skew the numbers without dramatically altering Broward's overall registered voter count, they gave up and conceded. Trump's numbers were just too yuge across the rest of Florida and America.

Trump beat Clinton in Florida by 119,770 votes.

Bribing Electors

The Electoral College has been the most effective constitutional tool in American democracy since the beginning. It has prevented big, populous states like New York and California from deciding presidents by giving smaller states more equal footing in the election process. However, not all states bind their electors to the popular vote of their states.

Some states allow their electors to change their votes and go against the voters in their states. This has rarely happened in America and, when it has, it has happened on such a small scale that it did not change the outcome. But, in the event of a very close race, one simple electoral vote could change the outcome entirely. For that to happen, the electoral college would need to be won or lost by a razor-thin margin of one or two electoral college votes.

No memorable election in recent history has produced such a margin, but it could happen. Larger margin wins in the electoral college make it impossible to bribe electors, simply due to the difficulty of keeping such a high number of bribes and corrupt dealings a secret. The process of swinging an election with only one or two electors is much easier to cover up.

Hacking Electronic Voting Systems

As we edge closer to a future of online and electronic voting, we open our democracy to hackers and the “technocrats” who control the programs and codes that operate the voting systems. Hacking can be untraceable when done correctly. When it is performed, covered up and then defended by partisan players, hacking our electronic voting systems can be the most effective way to flip American elections.

A movement has emerged that seeks to move the Electoral College away from its current rules and toward a system in which electors from all states agree to cast their votes for the candidate with the highest popular vote across the whole country. It is called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Only 12 states have signed on for a total of 172 electoral votes, meaning the compact has no effect—but if it ever did gain more signatories, hacking the popular vote would be a lot easier than bribing electors.

In an American system where presidents were decided by popular vote, hacking results in key swing counties—as mentioned above—would become significantly more effective in swinging an election in one candidate's favor.

In a system like the one pedalled by supporters of the NPVIC, changing the outcome of a national election by altering the popular vote becomes far less difficult than attempting to alter the outcome of the electoral college. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would render the Electoral College useless and make changing the outcome of elections easier by hacking the national popular vote.

The current Electoral College would require the popular vote in key swing states and counties to be hacked individually, whereas the NPVIC would only require the national popular vote to be altered from anywhere and from any, or all, counties. In the same way hackers skim pennies from millions of bank accounts, hackers could skim small and locally negligible votes from all of America's counties to alter the national popular vote. Within the current Electoral College system, such a hack would not work in changing the winner.

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact combined with electronic and online voting is a bad idea and would almost instantly destroy our democracy.

The Real Threats

Hillary Clinton and Democrats have tried to tell us that Donald Trump's rhetoric, attacks on media and his imaginary attacks on the rule of law are a threat to our democracy. Nothing is furthest from the truth. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is a Democratic Party idea with only deep blue states signed on so far. Removing voter ID as a requirement to vote is a Democrat idea. Having unelected super delegates during a primary to decide a presidential nominee is a Democrat thing. Having CNN hand candidates debate questions before a debate is a Democrat tactic.

Electronic voting, electoral college reform, illegal immigration, reformed voter ID laws and rigged elections are Democrat things. All in all, Democrats are the biggest threat to democracy in America, bar none.