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How to Steal an Election – Techniques, Sources and Methods – Part 1, The Outsider

How to Steal an Election – Techniques, Sources and Methods – Part 1, The Outsider

With my sordid past, having traveled to more than 30 countries (mostly third world) as an intelligence officer,  I can’t help but think about how easy it might be to cheat in an American election if I were a De-, I mean, if I were a political criminal inclined to do so.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive instruction manual, and some of the techniques are easier than others, but I thought I would put this together to show the magnitude of the problem and why it is necessary to fix.

At the time of this writing, it appears that the Biden Administration’s “voter rights” bill that spreads easily defrauded voting measures across the nation will not pass. While I breathe a sigh of relief, many states still have such measures.

This is divided into four parts.  1) Methods that do not require one to be an insider, 2) methods that only insiders can use, 3) technical means, and 4) Mitigation measures. The first part is:

The Outsider

These are techniques you can use without involving anyone who works for the local election commission or is currently a public official, and has no access to the election chain-of-custody processes.  Political parties and those loosely associated with political parties have been caught using them.

Harvesting  – This is a general term that just means gathering absentee ballots being sent out without the voter’s request.  Unrequested ballots floating all over the place are easy to collect and most people don’t really care what happens to them. The Democrats hope to legalize some versions of this, however, it means putting people’s votes in the hands of outsiders.

1. Collecting unfilled ballots from the garbage – This is a straightforward approach, if you know when the ballots were mailed, you should be able to go out and search their garbage early the next morning and find many.  You might get yelled at a bit, but you are not likely to get arrested.  If you have a friend at the garbage dump, then you can be more efficient about it.  Unfortunately, it’s a lot of hard work and you have to get the ballots one at a time. Effectiveness  – low, it’s easy but not all that scalable, Risk – medium, depending on how obvious you are in searching the garbage. But no audit trail.

2. Getting unwitting people to contact voters and “help” them – If you have volunteers who are enthusiastic and have no idea what the voting laws are, you can get an army of them to go to rest homes, knock on doors reminding people.  Then you ask them to fill them out and offer to take them to the ballot box, but you only drop the ones in who vote for your candidate, throw away the rest of them. This has been done quite a bit in nursing homes in the guise of “get out the vote” campaigns. It is quite illegal. Effectiveness – medium, a lot of votes and the method moderately scales with a good organization. Risk – low – This is being done in the guise of getting out the vote, can be done mostly in the open. The illegal parts are done in private, with no audit trail to catch anyone.

3. Stealing from the Post Office – This was done at least once.  A mail carrier, rather than deliver the ballots, just decided to throw them out.  Should be easy enough to find friendly idealistic mail carriers, recruit him/her (i.e. pump them up, and pay them well to have enough to blackmail them to silence) then steal portions of the bulk mailed ballots. So easy. Wonder how much this is being done?  Effectiveness – high, you can steal massive numbers of votes. Risk – Low. If you are professional, then your recruitment of a mail carrier will not be discovered. No current audit trail.

4. Voting for Dead People –  Since voter registrations are public, and they are almost always not purged of dead people or people who have moved out of the area, it is easy enough to get a list of people who are dead but still eligible to vote.  A cheater with guts can walk into a bunch of precincts. This is done frequently.  Effectiveness – low, doesn’t scale, little impact on elections. Would need a lot of people to do any damage. Risk – Low for a single person, VERY high for an organized campaign.

5. Vote Buying – A lot of cases of this, especially with absentee ballots floating all over. Send a volunteer to a neighborhood to canvas on the day the absentee ballots arrive. Offer $20 to have the person in the house fill out the ballot in your candidate’s favor, then offer to take the ballot to the ballot box.  Anyone with a personality can do this without pissing anyone off or going to jail (like saying “if I were naughty I might offer you $20 to vote for my guy” – technically that is not an offer).  Since from an external perspective this cannot be distinguished from normal canvassing, you are not likely to get caught. And when it goes through the neighborhood that people are giving away $20 bills, it helps the cause, since people are more likely to open the door for the canvasser. Effectiveness – medium to high. This can influence whole neighborhoods and is scalable up to Congressional campaign levels. Less effect for senate or presidential campaigns. Risk – Low, when somebody gives money, someone else accepts money, nobody is ratting anyone else out.

6. Raid the drop-off boxes – A bit on the audacious side, but very workable. This would be easier for an insider, but it is certainly doable where early voting ballot boxes are left unattended, to crack them and remove or change the ballots.  These claim to be “tamper resistant,” However, as some of my old CIA buddies will tell you “If I can touch it, I own it.”  Even if they are bolted to the sidewalk, someone with power tools could unbolt it, load it into a truck, do whatever, and have it re-bolted to the sidewalk within an hour or so. This is not an amateur play.  Effectiveness – High. Not worth doing it, unless you are doing it right. Risk – If you have a professional crew and are working on behalf of the party in power, the risk is very low. No audit trail.

7. Voting more than once in an election – If information standards are not up to snuff, then a single voter can vote in more than one place, they can vote under multiple names (including dead people).  To have an effect you need a great number of people doing it. Effectiveness – Low, not likely to have an impact. Risk – High, eventually someone will catch you. But not many have gone to jail for it. In the not “up to snuff” scenario, audit trails are difficult.

By the way, in case you are wondering, the are are many techniques for reading the results of a sealed vote if proper security measures are not taken. X-ray, bright light shining through, unseal and reseal, etc.

I’m sure I can come up with more, but these are enough to demonstrate that cheat in possible if you are committed and not particularly ethical.

In the next installment, we will talk about how insiders can cheat in an election.

About The Author


  1. frank stetson

    8. Getting unwitting people to vote for you by having them believe over 30,000 lies in four years. You contact voters and “help” them by feeling their pain. You tell the same lies over and over and if you are caught in a lie, just replace it with another lie. If you have volunteers who are enthusiastic and have no idea what the truth is or where to find it, you can get an army of them to do almost anything including storming the Capitol to change the vote. Effectiveness – high, there’s a sucker born every minute and the method scales well, especially in conservative msm, even more so in the untethered blogsphere. Risk – low – There is nothing illegal with lying and in some political parties, there is nothing seen as wrong with it. Some of our greatest minds have said: “I hold my nose on personality and vote for policy.”

    9. Storming Congress to stop the election and have your candidate artificially installed. You contact voters and “help” them by feeling their pain. You tell them to come to Washington, you say: “we will STOP THE STEAL,” and: “it will be wild.” First, you start with The Big Lie by saying: “‘We won this election, and we won it by a landslide,” just like Joe. You must exude confidence like saying: “‘We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen.” Then you hint at the job at hand: “‘If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.” Then you send them on their way telling them you’re in it with them to win it: “‘We are going to the Capitol.” Note: it’s really important to add your Plan B, the CYA by telling them at last: “‘Peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” It’s good if the mic turns off on the last statement….. Effectiveness – high chance of acceptance if your base is sheep-like, however, good chance the result will be a clusterfuck and while thousands show up, hundreds will be arrested, indicted, and convicted of various misdemeanors and felonies. Remember, there’s a sucker born every minute, the method scales well, especially in conservative msm, even more so in the untethered blogsphere. Risk – low for the leader, very high for the followers. In some political parties, there is nothing seen as wrong with it; they call it patriotism to storm the Capitol, armed, injuring hundreds. Some of our greatest minds have said: “It’s just a bunch of tourists that got a bit excited.”

    Wow, thanks Joe, this is fun. You know Joe while you conjecture is really great that I will be asking you for adjudicated cases and examples in the US. Especially in the 2020. Good luck. I think I can prove mine pretty easy…..

    • Joe Gilbertson

      Frank, you have outdone yourself.

      • Ac

        Theme paper assigned receives a grade of F.
        1. No foot noted references substantiating the outlandishly preposterous affirmations. Likely libelous accusations require evidenced sourcing.
        2. Unprofessionally wordy and loose structure through out. Lacks style required compelling the reader’s interest. Lies especially have to have embellishments or the piece is no fun.

        • Joe Gilbertson

          When you have your own news site, you can write how you want to.

        • frank stetson

          supporting evidence, I don’t need no stinkin supportin evidance. I got feelings, nothing more than feelings, those feeling of fraud. and a one and a two and a……

          “Feelings, nothing more than feelings,
          Trying to forget my feelings of fraud.
          Teardrops rolling down on my face,
          Trying to forget my feelings of fraud.
          Feelings, for all my life I’ll feel it.
          I wish I’ve never met you, Don;
          You’ll Never Come Again.
          Feelings, wo-o-o feelings,
          Wo-o-o, feel you again in my vote.

          Feelings, feelings like I’ve never lost you
          And feelings like i’ll never have you
          Again in my heart.
          Feelings, for all my life I’ll feel it.
          I wish I’ve never met you, Don;
          You’ll never come again.

          apologies to morris albert.

          • Joe Gilbertson

            The surprising thing is that I really used to like that song…

          • Will

            You must be an asshole! n ot long ago I RESPECTED you! Please don’t say you”’re from Texas!

      • frank stetson

        Turnabout is fair play :>)

    • Linde Barrera

      To Frank Stetson- I was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 holding a yellow sign with red letters stating “TRUMP WON”. I went to assemble peacefully and
      express my freedom of speech. Only a few US senators and representatives stood up for President Trump that day. Most said in so many words: “Trump, let it go. The guy who won was Joe.” And the US Supreme Court would not hear the case because they said it lacked standing! Dominion voting machines filed a lawsuit because some of Trump’s lawyers hurt the feelings of the executives of Dominion. I doubt the truth will ever come out. But from now on, anyone who wants free, fair and legal elections in America will have to have a series of precautions in place. And please remember this: you don’t know what you don’t know, and neither does anybody else.

      • Joe Gilbertson

        You speak truth.

      • frank stetson

        Linda, thanks for sharing. So, dish girl, were you proud of your actions that day? Did you assemble peacefully at the Capitol? How violent did you get? Did you breach, cheer, or leave when they stormed the Capitol? Glad you stayed safe.

        Yes, many Republican Senators even condemned or chastised Trump that day only to turn tail 180-degrees within days. Every one. Even Mitch at best waffles depending on the season. Not many say, “let it go, the guy who won was Joe.” Even Joe G. here believes The Big Lie. The Hill, pretty unbiased although this is an op ed, calls it the ReTrumpublican Party. They sum it well: “What began in the late 1850s as political movement dedicated to high moral values like expanding the right to vote and opposing the spread of slavery has become a party defined by restricting the right to vote, especially for minorities, and insisting on a litmus test of lies. The party of Honest Abe has in effect become the party of Truth-free Trump.”

        Only a few of you still say The Big Lie is a lie. The tale of the tape says: “On this first anniversary of the Donald Trump-inspired insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last Jan. 6 during which five people died, we find the Republican Party speeding toward a new identity as the “ReTrumplican Party.”

        What began in the late 1850s as political movement dedicated to high moral values like expanding the right to vote and opposing the spread of slavery has become a party defined by restricting the right to vote, especially for minorities, and insisting on a litmus test of lies. The party of Honest Abe has in effect become the party of Truth-free Trump.

        Just hours after the armed assault on the Capitol of Jan. 6, two thirds of House Republicans — 139 in all — voted to still overturn the 2020 election results, swallowing Trump’s “stolen election” falsehood whole and participating in the subversion their constitutional duty. They were joined in this malfeasance by another eight Republican Senators.”

        Today, to get on a Republican ticket, one has to embrace The Big Lie or face being un-endorsed in a scathing Trump-i-gram and the attacks that follow. Liz Cheney has bee stripped of her party leadership for saying “joe won.”

        Only about 20% of Republicans feel as you do, that Joe won. I would hazard that Congressional Republicans are pretty much the same with few notable exceptions who are immediately shunned by the preponderance of the party.

        Yes, SCOTUS did not offer to help Trump as it should be since there’s no there, there. Dominion’s case is about financial harm to the company, so, sure, feelings are hurt, but they believe the pocketbook was hit and that’s what the case is about. The Pillow Guy and others are also under lawsuit for similar financial harms due to their lies. Lawyers have been chastised, sent for retraining, referred to the State Bars for further actions, Rudy has lost the ability to practice, not that he does, all sorts of ill effects for supporting The Big Lie. Legal and binding. The only place The Big Lie has traction is with Republicans and the only place that traction is felt is in changes to State voting laws to limit access to voting by minimizing voting methods beyond going, in person, to the polls, showing ID, and voting. Apparently, Republicans can not find a secure method beyond that. It’s beyond their scope, above their paygrade. While the rest of the world is comfortable with two-factor authentication to protect information and finances, apparently Republicans can only operate securely in the Stone Age where you had to look em in the eye. That’s the downstream effect of The Big Lie. Attempting to rig the game with the sole purpose of having the process, next time, be in a position that would have elected Donald J. Trump as President this time.

        Think I am crazy? Well, sure, that’s true :>) But read this: “MSNBC host Rachel Maddow has gotten her hands on five forgeries—and has noted that each of them look very similar. “It wasn’t one state. It wasn’t three states where they did this. It was at least five states where we have now obtained forged documents created by Republicans,” Maddow said Tuesday night. “They sent them into the government as if they were real documents… They actually created these fake documents purporting to be the real certifications of them as electors.” The MSNBC host then noted something suspicious: “They all match, exactly. Same formatting, same font, same spacing, almost the exact same wording. All of them.”

        I think we know who really wants to rig the next election and how far they will go. I agree, “stop the steal.” But it should start at home, not with the homies…..

    • Will

      At first I thought you were a conservative patriot, and I felt good about that. But NOw I’m not certain WHAT you are! I think you have lost a follower!

  2. Lyudmila

    STOP THЕ STEAL ! ! !

    • Larry kuhn

      Better not happen again

  3. Ac

    Joe, those 30 countries gave you ideas real outside USA boarders. But, reality out there is no more the conspiracy theories here.
    You missed your true calling. Fictional political fantasy comes naturally as witnessed by your account lacking a scintilla of authoritative roof in evidence.
    Trump’s delusional fantastical fabrications are lies leading his followers in traitorous circular feckless argument. It’s a tactic used by him through his entire life and as profited from it for to long.
    His strategy is all propaganda giving a certain percent of the population a story they like hearing and promise happenings he can provide. The falsehoods he concocts if repeated as many times as it takes for peoples’ minds to begin crashing. Desperation’s seeds planted with lies grow to be fears. Fear not allied by true facts proven by trusted Republican and Democrat authority is unadulterated deception.
    Continued promulgation of what began as Trump’s Big Lie and has morphed in the Humongous Traitorous Mass Deception proves the moral ethical collapse in the Republican Party.
    This enumerated pack of self conceited attempts at defining Democrats as destructive for democratic free and fair elections and on a broader scale Democracy itself, is the very essence of the right’s strategy carried out across every state in the Union.
    The high percentage of folks on the right are shown by polling as believers of Trump’s prevarication in the Big Lie. In these folks’ minds they are convinced the only path forward is a revolution, fight, and violence. It’s shameful for America as was the Civil War in cost of lives on both sides, property destruction, productivity lost, as well as the heart and soul of Americans crippled with a national infamy lasting to the present day. Enslavement in this country’s history is a wholly deserved black eye shared by all Americans and its mark is still seen, bigotry has not been quelled in the 160 years since that war.
    Another civil disruption like 1/6/21 with the attack on the Capital Building has been promised by the radicalized right remains an unacceptable means for settling differences.
    Peaceful collective conference between parties is the function of our representatives at all levels. We the people are being short changed and cheated by the elected officials. Our trust placed on their shoulders is disregarded as long as the do not act like leaders. The Democrats and Republicans alike we expect will perform their duties loyally for the country’s good and the electorates benefit. Transparency is a tall order for the elected individuals who wish they will keep their seats.
    Further, Joe, pithy faux Horistish prose doesn’t convince the reader the truth may be found in your writings. Titled Part 1 and Part 2 in a series adds no authoritative weight to its tale told. The subject is often repeated in other places with lies no more true. It’s been covered so many times and by better story tellers. So, start being honest and rethink your own opinion’s position for its contribution to intelligent informing in printed online form.
    Lately, I have picked up Forbes’ commentaries on subjects PBP attempts stabs at. They are a misinformation source on the right in the pattern FOX has made famously lucrative for itself and it’s comedic preposterously ridiculous host personalities. PBP is not anywhere to be seen if it thinks it ranks to be in the same foot race.
    Part 2 Like the old pop songs lyrics are, “ second verse, same as the first” a little longer but no less cursed.

    • Joe Gilbertson

      I wrote it in parts because you have the attention span of a 5 year old.

      • frank stetson

        No ad hominem there, eh Joe…..