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How to Steal an Election

Jeff Myhre

Posted on November 5, 2018 07:33

3 users

How you vote counts. How you count the vote counts for more.

As a former practitioner of the Dark Art of political campaign management, I would like to share with you a few observations about electoral integrity on Election Day. Or put another way, there are ways to steal an election, and there are ways not to.

The least effective way to steal an election is the way most people think elections are stolen – voter fraud. There are instances all over the world of busloads of people turning up to vote, getting back on the bus and voting again elsewhere, casting as many ballots a day as possible. This works, but it can be expensive, and it's too easily found out.

Nothing ruins the prize of winning an election quite so much as people knowing the outcome is illegitimate. Enver Hoxha, the dictator of Albania back when it was communist, once held an election where more than 1.6 million people voted for his one slate of candidates and a single person voted against it. He won, but no one really believed it was fair and square.

The idea is to win and have a legitimate appearance. So, the best way to steal an election is to rig everything so that it doesn't matter how anyone votes. Gerrymandering, manipulated electoral registers, first-past-the-post counting and so on can ensure that the right person will win. In theory, the voters choose their political office holders. But when done right, the office holders choose their voters. Unfortunately, this takes a lot of planning, organizing, and horse-trading (bribery if you prefer).

So what do you do on Election Day if you need to steal the election but haven't managed to gerrymander the constituency or hire hundreds of fake voters?

You start by holding back the results of places where you are going to win big. The Daley Machine in Chicago was great at this. Let the areas you don't control report their results first. If you are winning, no need to steal it. If you are losing though, you will know how many votes you need to manufacture. Lyndon Johnson turned a 20,000 vote primary loss into an 87 vote victory against Coke Stevenson back in 1948 this way.

I personally have worked on campaigns where ballot boxes were stolen, magically discovered, and lots of paper ballots ruined (put an extra X on an opponent's ballot when no one is looking is easy and it disqualifies the ballot).

Without paper receipts or even ballots (like in Georgia), this gets easier. Consider for a moment how innocent it looks to report 291 votes for a candidate when 219 were cast. Do that a couple of times in a city council race, and you win. Sure, sometimes you get caught, but that's what election lawyers are for. “Your honor, three volunteers made mistakes in different precincts, but my client has already been sworn in, so . . .”

Remember, you don't steal an election at the ballot box. You steal it at the count.

Jeff Myhre

Posted on November 5, 2018 07:33

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Source: Engadget

The threat of hacks disrupting US elections is very real, and enough people are concerned that it's creating some strange...

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