If the Election is Rigged, It’s Rigged In Favor of Donald Trump

Those of us looking forward to November 9th — the day after election day in the United States — may be disappointed to find the depressing spectacle we’ve called a presidential election drag on for weeks or months if Donald Trump contests the results, assuming he loses on November 8th (as polls suggest, but we’ll just have to wait and see). Trump claims that the election is “rigged” due to an ever-expanding list of culprits, including the media, the political establishment, and voter fraud at the polls.


Some prominent Republicans have challenged Trump’s assertion that the election is “rigged” — in many states, they oversee the elections and are unlikely to “rig” it in favor of Hillary Clinton — but Trump’s argument about a “rigged system” stems from mainstream Republican talking points.

give-us-the-ballotAs Ari Berman explains in Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America — an account of the tumultuous history of our fragile right to vote — the Republican Party has used unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud to limit access to voting. The book contains examples of Republicans who refused to participate in these efforts, but voter suppression has been a common tactic of the party. Republican-backed measures like purging voter rolls, requiring government-issued IDs to vote, and limiting early voting have disproportionately disenfranchised racial minorities, women, and other groups unlikely to support Republicans in elections (and groups that haven’t been supporting Trump, according to the polls). Voter suppression efforts have intensified since a conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a significant part of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013.

Thus, if the election is rigged, it’s rigged in favor of Republican candidates like Donald Trump in states that have passed these types of restrictive voting laws. Why does Trump feel like it’s the other way around?

There is no evidence to support Trump’s assertion of widespread voter fraud in our electoral system, whether it’s voter impersonation, “dead” voters, noncitizen voters, or other forms of fraud. In Give Us the Ballot, Berman notes that when the Bush Administration made voter fraud the focus of a Justice Department initiative, the probe “resulted in only eighty-six convictions out of three hundred million votes cast” between 2002 and 2007.

It doesn’t surprise me that there are so few examples of voter fraud. At my voting precinct, where I’ve been the Judge of Elections since 2008, both major political parties are represented among the poll workers, and both parties would have to be involved in the fraud for it to work in any meaningful way. There are many checks and balances in addition to having both parties represented, including requiring voter signatures and maintaining a separate numbered list of voters to compare to the signature list.

Importantly, everyone working at the poll is a member of the community we serve on election day. We know each other — the day consists of a series of mini-reunions between old friends, neighbors, classmates, and family members — making it less likely an impersonator would succeed if they tried to vote under someone else’s name. I understand that other precincts aren’t as close-knit as mine, but it’s undeniable that voter fraud remains rare. It’s telling that there is no significant evidence of it happening despite how hard people have been looking for it.

As a Republican U.S. Attorney fired by the Bush Administration for refusing to pursue voter fraud prosecutions said (as quoted in Give Us the Ballot), “It’s like the boogeyman parents use to scare their children… It’s very frightening, and it doesn’t exist. U.S. Attorneys have better things to do with their time than chasing voter-fraud phantoms.”

Nevertheless, Donald Trump has taken his party’s “boogeyman” and run with it, embellishing the cry of “voter fraud” into a much larger conspiracy that implicates his party. He can’t possibly believe it’s true, but it’s a narrative that excuses his loss (if, in fact, he loses). It undermines the legitimacy of both parties and, if Hillary wins, her presidency. What will he encourage his supporters to do about it after election day? Considering Trump’s incendiary rhetoric and appeals to violence in the past, that’s the part that concerns me.

Let’s hope this election ends peacefully and as close to November 8th as possible.


*See also, Ari Berman, This Election is Being Rigged, The Nation.

*If you’re interested in a wonderful children’s book related to voting rights, see A Children’s Book I Can’t Read Without Crying.


  1. I was hoping that since I voted early this past Wednesday that I would be able to put the election coverage out of my mind but I can’t escape it. i am simply too terrified Trump might win and terrified what he might do if he doesn’t.

  2. In my opinion, we are all getting a great lesson on a high-functioning narcissistic sociopath (or at least a person with a severe Narcissistic Personality Disorder). I have done extensive research on this topic, and have had two psych doctors weigh in favorably on this position on the comments of my post. You can read it here. https://twoifbycharmwordpress.wordpress.com/ . Speaking as someone who considers himself a global citizen, I want to let you know that we are all not like him.

    Finally, I will leave you with an excerpt from the paper. This paper was written back in July, and it’s hard to argue that it is not dead on:

    “A covetous sociopath is described as someone who envies or lusts to win or possess another’s qualities (looks, a personality, a mate, an award or promotion, money, a sports victory, etc…) so much, that he will resort to deceit to get them. When this individual cannot win or possess those qualities, he takes as much pleasure from being able to successfully thwart his perceived competition, even if from the sidelines. Many times the victim will have no idea that he was targeted. I believe that if Trump loses the nomination or general election, he could possibly go to great lengths to position himself as someone who did not lose. There could be lawsuits, and wild claims of collusion against him, and strong attempts to besmirch the power-brokers, winners or even voters.”

  3. I don’t believe the election is rigged, but may agree with him that the media is unfair in reporting. Maybe Wikileaks was wrong to publish the emails, but what the emails said sounds rather troubling, and the media does not report on the leaked emails.

    1. I just went to Google News and searched for ‘Clinton Wikileaks’ and saw dozens of stories in just the past 48 hours, including from CNN, CBS, NPR, Washington Post, etc. The media is combing through these emails and asking questions. I think it’s quite favorable for Clinton that, despite the sheer magnitude of the dump — this is her campaign chair, after all — there aren’t any smoking guns. There’s just all the normal stuff you would expect in the intersection of a political campaign, an international foundation, and the Clintons’ private businesses.

      For all the attacks on the Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Foundation’s finances are public, and in addition there have been two separate releases of emails related to it (first through the State Department emails, and second through the Podesta hack), and none of that has shown any improprieties. If there was really anything in those emails, you would expect Trump to be waving it around like a red flag. Instead he’s reduced to vaguely saying “Wikileaks” without giving any specifics, because there aren’t any specifics.

      That’s one of the big problems with Trump. Even if we put aside all the scandals, everything from groping women to cheating contractors to concealing his taxes, there’s no substance to the guy. In the past two days, he claimed he and his employees don’t use ObamaCare, which means he doesn’t even understand what ObamaCare is, and he claimed he could teach the former dean of the Army War College “a couple of things” about war. The guy has no idea what he’s talking about, so he gets angry, throws insults, and tosses out a bunch of bluster. That’s not the sort of person we’d elect to be in charge of a lemonade stand, much less the Presidency.

      1. I agree with what you said about Trump. He is quite troubling. But my problem is not having confidence in either candidate. The media is not what it used to be either. The media slants depending on what station one is watching. Thank you for your insight.

        1. Hi Donna- It’s been a horrible election season, hasn’t it? For me, there’s no comparison between the two candidates. Donald Trump is simply unfit for the Presidency, while Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person ever to run. She’s been in the spotlight for 30 years, investigated time and time again, and no one has ever been able to come up with anything worth prosecuting. It amazes me that the FBI inserted itself into this election when they hadn’t even looked at the emails. It was a purely political move to shake people’s confidence.

          I also have personal reasons for strongly preferring Clinton. I do not believe Trump welcomes families like mine in his America. His version of America scares me.

          1. I am happy you are so convinced and feel she is most suited for the presidency. At least there are people with their minds made up. I am not convinced for either candidate. I feel very negative for this countries direction no matter who gets the votes to win. Maybe next time, there will be a worthy candidate. We need one.

            1. In case you’re curious why Hillary’s supporters love her, this article does a pretty good job of explaining it: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/why-is-hillary-clinton-so-widely-loved/506402/?utm_source=atlfb (it also says, “Millions of Americans do not expect a politician be perfect. They are frustrated that Hillary Clinton is allowed no complexity.”).

              It’s not just because she’s the only sane candidate for president this time around (the fact that Republicans didn’t put forward a better candidate is simply shameful).

              Anyway, I’m looking forward to November 9th. I hope the election will be over by then.

    1. Sadly, I think you’re right. The truth just doesn’t matter anymore. I hope the American people will restore sanity to this country on November 8th. My fingers are crossed.

  4. Are US citizens not horrified at the choices laid before them? How do men and women with proven leadership qualities, statesmanship, ability, talent and integrity not get to contest the top job? I think most of us this side of the Pond are simply hoping for the least damaging result 😦

    1. It’s been a horrifying election, but in my opinion, that’s because a highly qualified woman has had to face a racist, sexist man who isn’t fit to run the United States. It’s insulting and terrifying. Hillary Clinton isn’t perfect, but at least her weaknesses generally fall into what we expect from politicians in our modern era (I do believe she’s held to a higher standard than male politicians are). She’s been attacked for 30 years, and they haven’t really come up with much that sticks after a closer examination. Did you see John Oliver’s comparison of their scandals (from the end of September)?

      1. No, I guess most of us here just follow the headline reporting by BBC etc. We have our own local issues but the whole world is affected by the outcome of the US election. Hillary at least appears to be fit for office, but a plausible Republican candidate might have made things different.

    1. I’m tired of it too, and I sincerely hope the drama will end on November 8th. Generally speaking, I enjoy politics, but this election has been painful to endure. I’d love to ignore it, but I just can’t, not when Trump targets my identity and threatens so many of the issues that matter to me. I really wonder whether my family has a place in his version of America. Republicans should have chosen a better candidate.

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