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5 not-so-classy ways of rigging elections

you want to rig an election? Good. Clearly you’re a smart guy. Anyone who believes in free and fair elections is a sucker. Democracy is a farce and rigging is the only way you can ensure that your family stays in power. So here’s our guide on how to rig elections in 5 not-so-classy ways.

#1 Finger the EVMs

What better than to hack the very machine voters use to express their choice? If you’re looking to win by deceit, we’re sure you must have come across the idea of hardware tampering. All you have to do is alter the wiring in the machine so even if someone votes for candidate A, B or C, the machine will register all votes for you, candidate D.

For example, in India, after losing the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Arvind Kejriwal claimed that 20–25% of his votes were stolen by BJP by hacking the EVMs. Of course, that could be seen as a case of ‘sour grapes’, but in April 2017, another EVM controversy sparked. In the Bhind constituency of Madhya Pradesh, EVM machines showed the vote going to BJP irrespective of the button pressed. Post that, allegations were made against the Chief Electoral Officer Saleena Singh. Later both Mayawati and Kejriwal questioned the credibility of the Election Commission, blaming him for conspiring with BJP.

So you see, you may feel the heat of your tampering (oops) at first, but once you’re in power, you’ll be pseudo invincible.

#2 Spread some fake news

If you’re looking for a more generic way to rig elections, where you probably won’t have to hire fake engineers on craigslist, you can use propaganda. They say (opponent’s) negative publicity is the (your) best form of publicity. And you’ll find a lot of carriers willing to help you in your heinous tasks. For example, you can publish controversial news about your opponent through fake news and then retract the information just in time so you don’t get incriminated. Use social media to spread rumours about a candidate, just like you did in high school. For example, according to Robert Mueller’s investigations, Russia unleashed an extensive campaign of fake news and disinformation on social media with the aim of distorting US public opinion, sowing discord and swinging the election in favor of the Republican candidate Donald Trump. And we know from its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, himself, that 126 million Americans were shown Russian-backed, politically-oriented fake news stories via Facebook during the elections.

You can hire an exiled criminal’s super-legit website to hack the opponent’s emails. Like in the case of Hillary Clinton, where WikiLeaks hacked her emails allegedly on Trump’s behalf; thus starting investigations into her accounts. Clinton’s email controversy was so heavily covered by media channels that it took over Trump’s abusive, chauvinistic, foot in the mouth moments for a while.

#3 Bribe the promiscuous

Let’s just say you want to rig the elections in country A. Now this is tricky. You need to get on Craigslist, as fast as possible, and find people who’re willing to commit voter ID fraud. Once you get these people, you pay them a certain amount and ask them to vote for your party only. This is called buying votes and is also a popular tool in many countries. Take Mexico for example; in 2012, mass protests were held across the country against President Enrique Peña Nieto. Protestors claimed that Neito’s party paid TV networks for support and gave out groceries, pre-paid gift cards and other goods to voters before the elections.

Vote buying and the overall practice of clientelism is widespread in Argentina. One of the main perpetrators of these illegal activities were the Peronist party. The relationship between voters and Peronist candidates are such that voters are offered particular goods, services, favours or monetary compensation in exchange for their political support for the party. These rewards could include a job, medicine, a roof, clothing, foods, and other goods or services.

Now let’s get to impersonation. Don’t be afraid of the big name, this just a mafia word for actor.

A proxy vote is a vote cast by one person on behalf of another. This is usually allowed in cases where the voter is either a senior citizen or is not in the physical state to reach the election booth. In such cases, the voter can sign a form giving the proxy permission to cast a vote on his behalf. In the United Kingdom, this is known as ‘granny farming.

This is a highly criticized technique and most countries are on the verge of abolishing it. So this may be your last chance to use proxy voters. For example, in the 2018 assembly elections in Kohima, Nagaland, voters were prepared with nail polish removers and cotton. People would remove the ink on their fingers after casting each vote to give proxy votes. Further, some voters were also seen changing clothes several times to cast multiple votes. Proxy voting is neither healthy nor a fair election practice, but people will take time to follow it truly if given incentive.

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#4 Make violence a part of your campaign

Threatening people is the fastest way of getting their votes. You can cut down on all the costs of legal campaigning and simply shoot down people who don’t follow you. Just like AFSPA. And you may think violence is wrong, but only if you are one to follow herd mentality. Violence is easy, authoritarian and gives fast results. Those who propose peace should check in to a mental asylum.

In India, states like West Bengal have historically been worst hit by violence during elections. In fact, West Bengal alone accounts for over 34% of all political violence in the country. During 1966–1970, violent incidents by communist parties touched a peak. And we all know about the notorious emergency period, the darkest period in Indian democracy.

In Syria, to vote for anything other than Bashar al-Assad is to sign your own death warrant and that of your family. You either support Assad or face WMD.

#5 Overfeed the ballot box

Don’t be fooled, this has nothing to do with over-feeding voters. Ballot stuffing means increasing the voter call in the ballot sheets. You can do this by first adding dead people’s names in the ballot to increase the number of voters. Then mark all those dead people in the voter turnout list and go cast multiple votes in the EVM booth on their behalf. Of course, you need a lot of trusted workers to help you hide from the Election Commission’s officer on duty and a foolproof disguise. In the 2017 Venezuelan elections, electoral authorities said that the voter count was more than 8 million people. But Venezuelan voting firm Smartmatic stated that the actual turnout was inflated by at least one million. In 2012 NPR published figures claiming that in the United States, over 1.8 million dead people were registered to vote nationwide and over 3 million voters were registered in multiple states.

The other alternative, in case of paper ballot, is to write your name on lakhs of papers (now you will obviously need help with this, unless you like indulging in a little narcissism like Gilderoy Lockhart) and sneak in to the voting area after hours to stuff the ballot box with your votes. For example, the Syrian President, Bashar Al Assad, when reelected in 2014, was accused of ballot stuffing, as most of the Syrian population weren’t keen on having Assad as a ruler.

In the 2015 Turkish elections (considered one of the most corrupt elections in modern history), the Supreme Electoral Council ordered the printing of approximately 74 million ballot papers despite a domestic electorate of only 53 million. 897,000 of these ballot papers were to be sent to 33 customs gates for voters voting at the border or airports, while 2,917,200 were printed for Turkish expats voting abroad.

During election day of the 2018 Russian Presidential Election, there were multiple instances, some caught on camera, throughout Russia of voters and polling-staff alike stuffing multiple votes for incumbent President, Vladimir Putin in the ballot box.

Alas, if it’s worth anything, leave the rigging alone and let the democratic system work in its own way. For all you know you might be a better politician being honest.

Knowledge isn’t liberating. It simply shows us how shackled we really are.

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