Editorials: How to Steal an Election in Broad Daylight | Nic Cheeseman and Brian Klaas/Foreign Policy

In Ukraine’s 2004 presidential election, droves of voters turned out in opposition strongholds, hoping to oust the incumbent, Viktor Yanukovych. Upon arrival at their assigned polling stations, they received their crisp ballot papers and pens to mark them with. They dutifully ticked the box for the opposition — and against the ruling regime. Then, they slipped their cleanly marked ballot papers into the ballot box to be counted. Having done their democratic duty, they left. Four minutes later, their ballots were blank. Although the opposition voters didn’t know it, they had been given pens that were filled with disappearing ink. The ballot boxes were filled with stacks of unmarked ballots. Despite such dirty tricks, Yanukovych eventually lost. Election observers noticed the disappearing ink trick — and many others — leading to the election being rerun. But Yanukovych’s defeat was unusual; incumbents win most elections these days for two reasons. First, they enjoy many legitimate advantages, such as the ability to set the political agenda. Second, a remarkably high proportion of elections are rigged. Most incumbents have learned to transform elections from a threat to their grip on power into something that can instead be used to tighten it. They’ve figured out how to rig an election, leading to the greatest political paradox of our time: There are more elections than ever before, and yet the world is becoming less democratic.

Full Article: How to Steal an Election in Broad Daylight – Foreign Policy.

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