Could US Elections Be Stolen? Election Integrity Activists Say Yes
‘If it’s a close election, the cheaters are going to win,’ says Mark Crispin Miller, a professor of media studies who’s spent years combing through U.S. election results for evidence of electronic voting machine fraud.
By Kit O’Connel
AUSTIN, Texas — Election fraud is a dangerously real possibility in the United States, but Donald Trump is wrong about how elections could be rigged under the current system.
The Republican nominee has warned his supporters that the election could be rigged against him, and there have already been reports of Trump supporters with guns at polling places intimidating voters.
However, Mark Crispin Miller, a self-described “election integrity activist,” dismissed Trump’s claims.
“It’s basically impossible to vote ten times or fifteen times,” said the professor of media studies at New York University who has spent more than a decade studying election results.
“Under current electronic voting systems, it’s no longer really possible … to get a bunch of immigrants out there to stuff the ballot box. With a computerized system, it’s extremely difficult for many people to vote even one time, much less ten or fifteen.”
Only a couple of incidents of voter fraud or vote tampering have been found during this election, including the case of an Iowa woman who was arrested after she tried to vote multiple times for Trump, but they were quickly noticed by authorities.
“Republicans commit that crime as often as Democrats, as it happens,” Miller said. He explained that this type of voter fraud happens so rarely, and is ultimately so ineffective, that it’s almost a myth. Numerous studies have found that voter fraud, as Trump imagines it, is essentially nonexistent.
However, as Miller noted, that doesn’t mean American democracy is secure and that voters’ ballots are being properly counted.
‘The attack on democracy has become much more sophisticated’
Most voters use electronic voting machines to cast their ballots, though, in a few smaller districts, they may cast paper ballots that are then counted with computerized devices. But electronic voting machines lack a paper trail that could be used to verify that votes are being counted properly, and even the optical scanners used to count paper ballots can be tampered with, Miller warned.
Miller said he believes that rigged electronic voting machines may already have been used to steal elections.
“I’ve been concerned about the vulnerability of our elections since 2000 because of the rising use of computerized voting and vote counting machinery,” Miller explained.
In 2005, he published “Fooled Again,” which documented evidence that the Republicans had used rigged electronic voting machines to tilt the 2004 election in favor of George W. Bush, and against Democratic nominee Al Gore.
In 2008, he edited “Loser Take All,” a follow-up volume containing further evidence of election rigging through electronic voting which was submitted by other electoral integrity activists and scholars. Miller summarized his findings to MintPress:
“The use of electronic voting machines and optical scanners to count votes is every bit as threatening to electoral democracy for all as the old poll taxes and literacy tests. The attack on democracy has become much more sophisticated. It’s a stealth attack, very often.”
Key evidence often comes in the form of comparing exit polls with official election day results. Without a paper trail, this is the only way activists like Miller can compare voters’ stated choices to the final tally. However, some experts have warned that exit polls themselves could be flawed, limiting activists’ ability to definitively prove that fraud has occurred.
While the United States is often considered an exemplar of democracy to which other countries should or do aspire, a 2016 study by the Electoral Integrity Project found the United States trailing behind other Western countries in multiple measurements of the vitality of a democracy. Carried out by researchers from the University of Sydney and Harvard University, the study examined 180 elections held between July 2012 to December 2015 in 139 countries, and found that U.S. elections were vulnerable in multiple ways, from the influence of money in politics to frequent and worrying voting irregularities on Election Day.
“Americans often express pride in their democracy, yet the results indicate that domestic and international experts rate the U.S. elections as the worst among all Western democracies,” Pippa Morris noted in a March analysis for The Conversation.