The Iceberg Model: Beware Invisible Threats to Democracy

One way to understand election integrity is to imagine visible and hidden threats to democracy. In the Iceberg Model diagram below, we see visible threats above the surface of the water, while what lies hidden below is often much bigger.

Examples of the Visible:

  • Voter suppression
  • Long lines at the polls
  • Insufficient voting machines and poll workers
  • Robo-calls
  • Visible "vote flipping" on touchscreen voting machines
  • Highly suspicious election results (such as the 2010 victory of Alvin Greene in South Carolina)

Examples of the Invisible: 

  • The political agenda of those who control the computerized voting machine software
  • Fraud capacity in the programming itself; hidden malicious code, machine error, or lost votes
  • Insecurity due to a broken "chain of custody" (when ballots are removed from public view for any length of time) which is extensive in Vote-by-Mail and Absentee Voting
  • Lack of citizen oversight and the legal banning of public hand-counting