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Electoral fraud

(Redirected from Vote-rigging)

Electoral fraud is the deliberate interference with the process of an election. Such efforts and campaigns can be quite sophisticated, involving court challenges and counter-challenges.

Inflating the vote can be accomplished by buying or coercing votes from persons who would not normally vote but who are nevertheless eligible to vote, by registering false voters such as the deceased, by recording multiple votes from a single voter, or by subverting the vote counting process itself.

Deflating the vote can by accomplished by intimidating voters and preventing them from voting (such as by random violence near polling places or other forms of electioneering), by controlling the ballot counting process, or by "losing" or "misplacing" ballot boxes. The vote can also be deflated by interfering with postal or Absentee ballots, or disqualifying them on technical grounds. For example, the perpetrator of the fraud could require signatures on absentee military ballots after they have been cast but before they have been counted. More dramatic is "four-legged voting," where precinct workers would pull the levers on voting machines instead of the voter; this was once practiced in Chicago.

It has always been possible to alter voting machines so that they only record votes for a single candidate. Recently, however, a method of electoral fraud that has worried political activists is hacking electronic voting schemes to prevent ballots from being registered or by making them appear to select the wrong candidate. Identity theft is likely to become an issue if Internet voting schemes are implemented, since obtaining public records concerning registered voters is almost as easy as casting a "secure" vote using someone else's identity.

Additionally, votes can also be influenced by counting. If the counting of votes is done out of the public view, as is the case for example in most of the United States today, then the votes can be manipulated without having to cause any fraud at the voting booth. Countries such as France count all votes publicly in order to make this method of electoral fraud more difficult.

Legal means of influencing the outcome of an election such as gerrymandering (drawing voting district lines in such a way as to obtain a favorable result) or including prison inmates in a local population are also often argued to be forms of electoral fraud.

History is full of notorious examples of electoral fraud, especially (and ironically) in advanced democracies where such crimes tend to be noticed, reported, and corrected. Examples include the Daley Machine in 20th Century Chicago and Tammany Hall in 19th Century New York. Although the penalties for getting caught may be severe, the rewards for succeeding are likely to be immense, encouraging perpetrators to continue their fraudulence. Also, in recent times, accusations of voter suppression are often made to counter those alleging election fraud.

See also


"Those who cast the votes decide nothing, those who count the votes decide everything." -- Joseph Stalin
"I can make them voting machines sing 'Home Sweet Home'." -- Earl K. Long

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