Why Trump’s Claims of a ‘Rigged Election’ Are Not That Far-Fetched
Policy + Politics

Why Trump’s Claims of a ‘Rigged Election’ Are Not That Far-Fetched


The presidential candidate who used to run a casino full of slot machines and gaming tables in Atlantic City is warning that the deck could be stacked against him in the November election.

At a rally in Ohio, on a Fox News show and in an interview with The Washington Post, Donald Trump has been repeating his fear that the outcome will be “rigged.”

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Trump’s latest attack on the “system” has been met with arched eyebrows and castigating copy, but a story Wednesday in Wired suggests that, yes, tampering with the electronic ballot box could happen here. That doesn’t necessarily lend credence to Trump’s warnings about potential voter fraud — it’s just a reminder just that our voting system is nowhere near where it must be to rule out such conspiracy theories.

Legislation passed after the contested Bush-Gore election in 2002 sought to do away with the flawed punch card system and move to electronic voting machines, but Wired calls the outcome a “technological train wreck.”

Verified Voting Foundation, a nonpartisan nonprofit that promotes accuracy and verifiability in the voting process, says on its website that “too many states use unreliable and insecure voting machines,” and some have worsened the situation by also relying on Internet voting, which leaves no paper trail.

Verified Voting’s interactive map of polling place equipment across the country shows a jumble of systems that range from the paper ballots still widely used in many states to a mix of electronic voting machines with and without paper audit trails and the vestiges of the punch-card method. In three states — Colorado, Oregon and Washington — all voting is by mail.

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Wired raises the possibility of Russia hacking into electronic voting machines to subvert the balloting, but then shoots down that notion by reasoning that its apparent intrusion into the email of the Democratic National Committee, which led to the resignation of Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, would make it too obvious a suspect if tampering was discovered.

But the possibility should not even exist. Given the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the election, it seems absurd that the United States cannot have a secure, verifiable method of electing a president.

“After all the effort necessary to overcome the other hurdles to casting a ballot, it is patently unfair that once you get to the ballot box, that the ballot itself fails you,” a statement by Verified Voting says. “Taken together, these problems threaten to silently disenfranchise voters, potentially in sufficient numbers to alter outcomes.”