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Saturday, 24 November 2018 11:17

Elections: Democracy's Achilles Heel

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Not that Britain under the high heel of Mrs May can claim anything like representation of the Will of the People. Brexit betrayal on one side of the Pond and the ghost of Clinton's many victims buggering up the 'mid-terms' on the other side. But over the hubbub we heard from several cogent souls talking of elections. Some 'advice' and perhaps admonishment came from one Arthur Chrenkoff who thinks we have it fine in Oz. And another from John Misachi who pointed out that in America 'twas ever thus.  Oz customers received a bit of an education in US matters of little fundamental interest but served as a precurser to an Oz POV. We were entertained, too, by Edmund Blackadder and his little friend Baldrick, who had to be hosed down several times before being allowed in the UK Room. First, John, with a short run down on buggered elections in the Land of the Freedom to bugger elections. Of course, I cannot attest to the veracity nor the political orientations of Mr Misachi. That I shall leave to you to figure. But I can say, as I did to m'self listening to him, that the US experience is chickenfeed compared to the madness that infects Tasmanian elections.

Most Rigged, Fraudulent, And Corrupt U.S. Elections In History

Since the United States was founded, it has seen a number of controversial ballots, candidates, and outcomes.In the United States, Presidential, Congressional, state-level, and municipal elections alike have often been characterized by fears that a candidate would steal votes or that they would otherwise be rigged. Accusations of stolen or rigged elections have been common in the history of the country, some candidates have accused their opponents of cheating them out of the U.S. Presidency, such as in the case of Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson in 1800. Throughout the 19th Century, almost every candidate claimed that an electoral fraud was committed. Even in 2016 the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, has claimed that there is a plot to rig him out. However, sometimes the accuser was right because the electoral process is never fraud proofSome of the most controversial presidential and state level elections in the history of the United States of America are looked at herein. 10. U.S. Presidential Election of 2004 - The US Presidential Election of 2004 was the country’s 54th and was held on November 2nd, 2004. The race was between the incumbent president George W Bush, and John Kerry, the Democratic candidate. Bush won with a small margin in the popular vote. However, the ballot papers and the voting were marked by error, omission and mistakes. In Minnesota, one elector cast a ballot with the name John Edward instead of John Kerry. In New York, the certificate indicated that 31 presidential votes were marked John L Kerry instead of John F Kerry. Also, there was an allegation of data irregularities and flaws during the voting process, particularly in Ohio. 


The Democrats dismissed the Ohio results claiming voter suppression and unreliable machines. They also accused the Republicans of engaging in unethical activities to manipulate the elections. There were also discrepancies in the number of votes obtained by Bush in counties where touch-screen Machines and other voting equipment were used. 


9. 2002 New Hampshire Senate Election -The 2002 New Hampshire Senate Election was held on November 2nd, 2002, following the incumbent Senator Bob Smith's decision to step down from his seat to run for the U.S. Presidency as an independent candidate. He claimed that the Republican Party was not ideal, a remark which would later deny him the nominations when he rejoined the party for the Senate election.The Republicans nominated John Sununu while the Democrats nominated Jeanne Shaheen with the Republicans’ candidate winning the final elections. The campaign was characterized by phone jamming scandal by a telemarketing firm hired by the Republican Party to tamper with the elections. The operation involved using call centers to jam phone lines of the Democratic call centers. Four men have since been persecuted (sic) for their role in the scandal.

8. U.S. Presidential Election of 1960 in IllinoisThe US Presidential Election was the 44th and was held on November 8th, 1960. The presidency was contested by Democrats’ John F Kennedy and Republicans’ Richard Nixon. The election was closely contested with Kennedy winning by 0.17% of the votes despite Nixon winning popular votes in 26 states. Kennedy’s victory was credited to the Roman Catholic support base, the economic recession of 1957 to 1958 which had affected the ratings of Republican, and his campaigning skills. However, most people believed that Kennedy was a beneficiary of vote fraud, especially in Illinois and Texas. He won Illinois by a margin of 0.2% with Nixon winning 92 of the 101 counties. The Republicans rejected the results while 650 people were arrested and charged with voter fraud.

7. 2006 Virginia U.S. Senate Election -The 2006 Virginia US Senate Election was held on November 7th, 2006, with the Republicans’ George Allen losing narrowly to the Democratic candidate Jim Webb. Allen who was initially favorite to win the race was caught on videotape using ethnic slur in reference to one of Webb’s campaign team member who was of Indian ancestry. The allegations considerably affected his campaign leading to his defeat by a margin of only 0.3%. The election was characterized by controversies involving both candidates, but Allen’s dramatic drop in the approval rating was his making. With the margin below 0.5%, Allen had an option of requesting for a recount but opted to concede defeat because he did not want to be labeled “sore loser” in case he lost the recount.

6. 2010 Maryland State Governor Election -The 2010 Maryland State Governor Election was held on November 2nd, 2010 to elect the Governor alongside the members of Maryland General Assembly. Martin O’Malley and Anthony G Brown, the incumbent Governor and Lieutenant Governor, pursued a successful reelection on a Democratic ticket, becoming the first candidates in the history of Maryland Gubernatorial elections to receive more than one million votes on the way to defeating the Republican candidate, Robert Ehrlich, by almost 15% of the votes. The Republican candidate resorted to Voter Suppression techniques where the Democrat’s African-American voters were tricked into staying at home with the claim that their candidate had won thus there was no need of them coming to vote. The message reached about 112,000 voters with majority failing to vote. Some members of Robert Ehrlich’s campaign team were convicted of fraud in 2011 because of the calls.

5. New York State Senate Election of 1891 -The New York State Senate Election of 1891 was held on January 20th and 21st by the New York State Legislature to elect a senator to represent the districts of New York in the State Senate. The elections were organized to replace Republican William Evarts whose term was coming to an end on March 3, 1891. The Democrats nominated David B Hill as their flag bearer while the Republicans nominated the incumbent William Evarts unanimously as their candidate. Both the Houses of Senate took their ballots separately on January 20, 1891, with Senator Evarts winning in the State Senate while Hill won the Assembly vote. Both houses could not agree on whom to give the seat and proceeded to a joint ballot. Hill won the contest with majority 2 votes garnering 81 votes to Evarts’ 79.

4. Kansas Territorial Legislature Election of 1855 -The first Kansas territorial election, held in 1855, was one of the most disputed and controversial territorial elections in the history of the United States. Border ruffians forced their way to Kansas and demanded the election of the pro-slavery legislature. Despite the number of votes cast exceeding the number of registered voters in Kansas, Andrew Reeder, who was the governor of Kansas, approved the elections in an attempt to avert further violence. The political confrontations began with the approval of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 by President Franklin Pierce. The question as to whether the Kansas will allow or abolish slave trade led to political confrontations. The pro-slavery defrauded the elections leading to the formation of Kansas Free State. In April of 1856, a Congressional Committee was set up to investigate claims of voting fraud. The committee discovered that non-residents had participated in the election, a claim President Pierce refused to recognize.

3. U.S. Presidential Election of 1876 -The US Presidential Election of 1876 is among the most disputed in the annals of American history, with the results being arguably the most disputed ever. Samuel J. Tilden won the first count of votes garnering 184 votes against Rutherford B Hayes’ 165 votes. However, 20 electoral votes from four states remained unresolved with each party claiming victory in the four states. The controversy remains on who should have been given these votes. A Compromise of 1877 that awarded the votes to Hayes was reached. The compromise also relinquished power in the Southern State to the Democratic Redeemer. 1876 was the first election in which a presidential candidate garnered more than half of the votes but was never elected by the Electoral College and also one of the three elections in which the winner of most popular votes failed to win the election.

2. New York State Governor Election of 1793 -The New York Governor Election of 1792 was held in April to elect the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor of New York. The elections pitted John Jay against George Clinton with John receiving more votes. However, the votes from the counties of Otsego, Clinton, and Tioga were disqualified on technicalities and thus were not included in the final tally giving George Clinton a slight majority. The votes from the three counties were canvassed by a joint committee of 12 members, six each from Senate and Assembly. The canvass committee could not agree on whether the ballots be recounted or not. The issue was forwarded to the US Senators, Rufus King and Aaron Burr for arbitration with the King suggesting that all the votes be canvassed while Burr suggested that only ballots from Clinton ought to be allowed. The Majority of the canvass committee rejected all the ballots handing George Clinton majority of the votes.


1. U.S. Presidential Election of 2000 -The US Presidential Election of 2000, the country’s 54th, was held on November 7th, 2000. The contest was between Republican’s George W Bush and the incumbent vice president and the Democratic candidate Al Gore. The campaigns focused on the domestic issues including tax, reforms, budget, and social insurance reforms. Litigation in some counties also started further recounts, with the US Supreme Court awarding the Florida vote to George W Bush granting him victory. However, further studies have given conflicting opinion on the legitimate winner of the Florida votes since the recount was not allowed to proceed by the Supreme Court. Al Gore also blamed his failure to win the presidency on the sex scandal on the then-President Bill Clinton as having affected the ratings of their Democratic Party. The outcome of the 2000 election was the closest presidential election in the history of the country. The election results were pegged on Florida with the margin of victory triggering a recount. 

That is what John presented. The tales of woe will no doubt continue until America finally falls to the Yoof voters of Antifa and their champion, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who gives every evidence of brain damage whenever she opens her mouth.  In almost every election there are counts and recounts, arguments and even fist-fights, accusations of fraud and the odd individual sent to jail for corruption. The eventual result  may take weeks to be announced.  Meanwhile Tattslotto, the betting empire, can take the money and number-votes of millions of people from tens of thousands of locations and have a result in an hour. Are things better in Oz? Well Arthur Chrenkoff thinks so.

An open letter to my American friends, re: your shambolic election process Dear American friends, You probably don’t need those pesky foreigners butting in and telling you that the recent – and continuing – controversies in Florida and Georgia (themselves only the latest in a seemingly never ending succession of controversies surrounding election enrolments, procedures and counts) are sad and pathetic. Nevertheless, take it from this pesky foreigner: they are sad and pathetic.

And worst of all unnecessary. The leader of the free world and the world’s largest developed democracy can do better than have the results of its nation- and state-wide elections constantly overshadowed by the allegations of electoral fraud. It’s tearing the United States apart and it’s doing nothing to your international reputation. I write this not with condescension or glee but as a friend who wants to help. Furthermore, I write as an Australian, from a country, which has always been on the forefront of electoral best practice and thus has much to offer by way of experience and example.
In 1856, the state of South Australia adopted universal male suffrage as well as secret ballot as a way to conduct election, the latter reform adopted later that year by Tasmania and Victoria and over the next few years by the remaining states. Throughout the second half of the 19th century, political reformers in the United States and Great Britain would fight – eventually successfully – for the adoption of “the Australian ballot”, as it became known overseas. It is now the international standard.  It seems to me that it’s time for America to again look Down Under for inspiration on how to improve its democratic process. Our Australian system is not perfect and it’s not 100 per cent foolproof (what is?) but it has been by and large free of fraud or the perception of fraud and its integrity is acknowledged by all sides of politics as well as the general voting public (voting in Australia is compulsory but I don’t recommend it for the US). There are, in my mind, four different elements of the electoral system in Australia, each making a significant difference towards the transparency and reliability of the democratic process. Each one, if adopted and adapted, could make a great deal of positive impact for the American democracy, never mind all four. Genuinely independent electoral commissions –  Governments and political parties have no role to play in the conduct of the elections, except for the parliaments setting up the general legal regime governing the process. Australia has a federal electoral commission and each state has got its own state body; the former handles nation-wide elections and referenda, the latter conducts elections at the state and local level (as well as, increasingly, trade union ballots). The commissions are strictly apolitical; there are no partisan appointments to their management and personnel and there are clear and precise policies regarding political neutrality of their employees. I’ve dealt with hundreds of federal and state commissions’ workers over a quarter of a century and have never encountered any issues of political bias or interference.

To what extent completely independent and apolitical electoral bodies would be feasible in the United States where partisan politics is much more pervasive and divisive than in Australia is debatable. Where the proverbial county dog-catcher is an elected position it might be difficult to built a depoliticised bureaucracy, but the least you could do is try. Anything will be an improvement on the disgrace that is Broward County. Secure enrolment – Tired of non-citizens enrolling (and voting Democrat (allegedly))? Or counties where more people end up enrolled (and voting) than are actually eligible to vote? Easy – to enrol to vote in Australia you need to present a driver’s licence or a passport or have someone who is already enrolled confirm your identity. This last option potentially opens the door to mischief, since you could make a chain of fraudulent enrolments based on the first, genuine link, but even with that proviso, the Australian system seems to me a lot tighter than the American seemingly free-for-all. Before an election, every person on the electoral roll is mailed a little card by the electoral commission with the voter’s details and a unique barcode. To be able to receive a ballot at the polling station you need to either present the card to be scanned or if you have forgotten to bring it with you you need to show a valid ID for your name to be marked on the voters’ list. Failing either, you can query your absence on the electoral roll and lodge a provisional vote, whose validity will be carefully assessed as part of the overall count, but it is a relatively rare occurrence. To an Australian, an argument that requiring an ID to vote is tantamount to “voter suppression” seems pretty ridiculous.Virtually everyone has got some sort of an ID; the tiny remainder can be accommodated separately. Paper ballots – Forget about e-voting and voting machines, which can malfunction or get hacked – nothing beats a piece of paper and a pencil (or a pen). It might take a lot more time and human resources to count the votes, since it has to be done manually, but isn’t that worth an absolute piece of mind? Not every technological advancement automatically equals progress, and electronic voting is a perfect case in point. Go back to basics as fast as you can.

  Hmmmmm. See Tattslotto !!

Scrutiny of the vote counting – Every candidate standing for the election in a given district can nominate a certain number of their supporters per each polling station to be the “scrutineers” at the vote count. While the voting is conducted by the electoral commission staff, nothing connected with vote tallying takes place without the presence of the scrutineers. Before voting opens in the morning, the boxes where the voters drop their paper ballots into after filling them in are sealed with special seals in the presence of the scrutineers, and after the vote is over the boxes are opened in the presence of the scrutineers, who ensure that the seals have not been tampered with during the day. Then the electoral commission staff commence the vote count. Scrutineers can’t touch the ballots but they can observe the process from up close (usually the two major parties will have a scrutineer each for every staff member counting the ballots). Potentially invalid votes can be challenged, counters can be alerted if they put a ballot in the incorrect pile or where a staff member otherwise makes a mistake counting. Scrutineers stay in the polling station until all votes are counted, the number of ballots issued tallies with the ballots received, and the results are officially calculated and communicated by the staff to the commission headquarters. If all ballots cannot be counted that evening, they are sealed again in boxes and the count resumes on Monday (all the elections in Australia are held on Saturdays). There is virtually no way the electoral fraud can be committed during this process, ... ....even if the commission officials were somehow secretly acting on a party’s behalf; no new boxes or piles of ballots can magically be discovered in the aftermath of an election as all the ballots issued during the day are accounted for on the election night. The fact that a candidate’s scrutineers witness everything that happens during the count guarantees that everyone has got an absolute faith in the integrity of the count and knows that nothing untoward has taken place. The count of absentee, pre-poll and provisional votes happens at the commission HQ for each district and can likewise be witnessed by the scrutineers.

Since becoming an Australian citizen some 27 years ago, I have voted as well as scrutineered in over two dozen federal, state and local government elections. I am reasonably certain that only real, alive people who were eligible to vote actually cast their ballots, and I’m absolutely certain that the ballot counts I have witnessed were 100 per cent accurate and not a figment of the counters’ imagination, putting their fingers on the scales of democracy. If you never want Florida to happen again, you have to go to Australia. The climate is similar but the elections are anything but.

  Nevertheless, fraud occurs. It is enough to drive a chap to drink. When I was the King I ran a fine small Kingdom where folk were treated well and right. But there are always those who want to 'fix' the system to their own advantage. They organise ne'er do wells, hold meetings, rabble rouse and protest. My response was to hand the whole shebang over to them, retire, and open a pub. I keep the rabble outside the hedges. Drinks, for fine folk, are on the house. Pax 


Knackered Old Knight and blogger/innkeeper at The Knight & Drummer

An Australian now, he was born and bred an Englishman but has stood on a town-hall stage, raised a hand and said ‘G’Day’. A respect for the social fabric is tempered by a fine sense of judgement and foolhardiness which sees him defying immoral and anti-Christian Laws. He may be found every week outside the Hobart Abortuary saying his Rosary, despite the threats of jail. Fines are no good for one so poor. The police no longer even tell him to ‘move along’ as he moves very slowly anyway.