In 166 days, Americans will go to the polls to elect the next Congress. It will be one of the most consequential votes in modern history. If Republicans retain control of the House and Senate, President Trump will feel vindicated and emboldened, while reluctant “Never Trump” Republicans will be tempted to hold their noses and embrace a winner. But if Democrats take back at least one congressional chamber, Republicans may begin to stand up to a president who promised endless “winning” — but lost instead. Regardless of which party you’re rooting for, all Americans should be able to agree on one thing: The vote must be clean and free of manipulation. In a democracy, citizens must never accept rigged elections. In our new book, “How to Rig an Election,” we showcase striking findings from our research: A large number of elections across the globe are heavily manipulated. Increasingly, elections are becoming contests that are designed so that only the incumbent can win. Across the world, the opposition wins elections only about 30 percent of the time – and the figures are much, much lower in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and post-Soviet Eastern Europe. Elections without democracy has become the new normal. Nonetheless, don’t make the mistake of thinking that American elections, or those in Britain, are perfect. They aren’t.
Trump famously claimed that the 2016 election was rigged. (Arguably, this made him the only electoral winner in modern history to contest the legitimacy of his own victory.) But we must be clear: His claim that millions of noncitizens voted illegally in 2016 is a debunked lie with no evidence to support it. One recent study found only 31 instances of voter fraud out of more than 1 billion ballots cast. An audit in North Carolina found one case of in-person voter fraud in the entire state in 2016. And George W. Bush’s Justice Department found that voter fraud occurs on roughly 0.00000013 percent of all ballots cast.
Despite this, Trump attempted to appoint Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to nationalize the Kansas system that makes it much harder to vote by demanding that individuals provide more IDs – something that tends to result in lower numbers of poor and minority voters casting ballots, making democracy less inclusive. Thankfully, that effort has fallen flat, but not for lack of trying.
While Trump focuses on a nonexistent problem, he’s turning a blind eye to the real dangers: gerrymandering and digital manipulation through hacking and information warfare.