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:
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.