How To Rig an Election

In the book “How to Rig an Election” authors Nic Cheeseman and Brian Klaas show how some incumbents and authoritarians manipulate the votes in order to stay in power. This book exposes the limitations of elections happening in various countries and regions to enjoy the sweet power.

The book starts with an introduction of amazingly described categorized 6 types of election rigging.

  1. Gerrymandering – Here, the leaders or the person in power deliberately distort the boundaries of districts in order to gain a majority and have a head start in legislative elections. Gerrymandering is done while in power and is executed well in advance of next elections. This helps the current incumbent under strong hold and helps manipulate results in certain other ways.
  2. Vote Buying – The concept of vote buying described is not literally paying money to the public. This involves a nice crafted strategy where voters are provided gifts, free access to selected services or by declaring subsidies right before election.
  3. Repression – One of the daring ways to manipulate vote is by the incumbent ordering the repression of opposition leaders and party members. The author describes here various scenarios whereby the leader holding the chair misuses it’s executionary power in order to repress the opposition by completely eliminating from contesting the results. Here, the examples also include scenarios where mass-murders have taken place due to biased decision leading to political unrest but ultimately the incumbent retaining it’s power as a government.
  4. Hacking the election– In the Digital age, many developed and developing countries have shifted to electronic voting. Many parts of the USA and overall in India implement electronic voting systems. But as we read through, the author highlights how it can be hacked providing examples and demonstrations by Cambridge University in certain cases. This surmises the final election results whereby many people vote multiple times by using credentials in the name of dead people or using an invisible ink.
  5. Stuffing the Ballot Box– The authors have touched this topic very professionally in how stuffing the ballot boxes can actually give out wrong counts at the end of the results. With the help of repression, hacking and stuffing the ballot box, the authors have demonstrated great examples and research where many leaders have won elections with a 98% majority.
  6. Play the International Community– To get away with the tactics, incumbents dupe donors into legitimizing the poor quality polls. Many international organisations especially from the USA and Europe take part in monitoring the election and declare reports regarding the fairness of elections. The authors again here have touched this topic both by being sensitive and bold.

The different strategies mentioned generate different costs and benefits. Most of the above may be eye-catching but some autocrats without responsibility enjoy power by influencing the decision sophisticatedly.

The authors have also not only highlighted the various ways in which the election is rigged but also presented some smart solutions to curb election rigging. The cost of eliminating election rigging comes with honesty and power to play fair and thereby not creating any facade and creating disillusion.

As we read through the book, the research done by the authors and presenting fair data is commendable. The fine points of history can be discovered and it teaches one how motives, colluding with wrong people helps the incumbent maintain it’s supreme power.