How to Rig An Election

Victoria Collier
Harper's Magazine, November 2012

Old-school election fraud was limited in scope, but new electronic voting systems allow insiders to rig elections on a national scale.


As the twentieth century came to a close, a brave new world of election rigging emerged, and two major events paved the way: the mass adoption of computerized voting technology, and the outsourcing of our elections to a handful of corporations that operate in the shadows, with little oversight or accountability. 

This privatization of our elections has occurred without public knowledge or consent, leading to one of the most dangerous and least understood crises in the history of American democracy: We have actually lost the ability to verify election results.

Old-school ballot-box fraud at its most egregious was localized and limited in scope. But new electronic voting systems allow insiders to rig elections on a statewide or even national scale. And whereas once you could catch guilty parties in the act, even dredge ballot boxes out of the bayou, the virtual vote count can be manipulated in total secrecy.

By means of proprietary, corporate-owned software, just one programmer could steal hundreds, thousands, potentially millions of votes with the stroke of a key. It’s the electoral equivalent of a drone strike.