Very close elections are prone to be settled by fraud, because it takes so few votes to decide the contest. If only a few votes separate two contestants, then non-voting influences have more scope to alter vote tallies by a number of fraudulent means and/or means that exploit legal vulnerabilities. It’s far easier to steal a close election than one in which the votes provide a clear margin of victory.
The 1876 election in the Tilden-Hayes contest was marked by serious fraud issues and allegations. It was settled by an extra-constitutional compromise between the two parties.
The Nixon-JFK election of 1960 is a memorable case of another close election in which fraud played a critical role. Texas and Illinois (Chicago) were the fraud centers.
The close election of 2000 (Bush, Gore) is a third recent presidential example. Gore won the popular vote by a significant margin (500,000 votes). That was not close. Florida swung the electoral vote to Bush. The Florida voting was extremely close. This made the contest vulnerable to all sorts of external influences in which the result is not fairly caused by voters’ intentions and choices but is caused by external powers and decisions.
The Clinton-Trump contest is not predicted to be close at this time. Clinton is expected to win by over 5 percent of the popular vote. Fraud may occur and probably will occur, but it’s unlikely to be so systematic as to outweigh the expected margin of a Clinton win.
This doesn’t mean that the elections in America work well, fairly or properly to accomplish their goal of voter selection of candidates. There are numerous faults and failures within the American systems of elections. One could write a book on these. These are where vote rigging come in.
The mechanics alone open up many problems that influence results. Who votes? Can people be bused in? Who is allowed to vote? At what age? With what property? With what criminal or non-criminal requirements? What are the registration rules? How is identification handled? How are absentee ballots handled? Where do people vote? How do they vote? What are the legal voting hours? How are votes counted? What do people get to vote on? How are initiatives and referenda handled? What do representatives get to vote on once they are elected? The rules and methods are where rigging occurs. The introduction of women voting and/or married women voting altered outcomes and eventually national policies. Gerrymandering is another issue.
Then there is the question of the influence of money and other favors on elections, on the votes of representatives on specific issues, and on the policies chosen by bureaucrats and selected officials. There is the question of quid pro quos via job offers and speaking engagement fees after a candidate leaves office and/or prepares to run for a new office.
There are extremely serious questions of voting irregularities within the systems used by the major parties. The nomination processes can be rigged and heavily influenced by various means, and we have seen this in the Clinton-Sanders case. We’ve also seen it on the other side. Control over convention rules is one such means.
When there are debates, unfairness and bias enter in numerous ways. Leaking questions to a favored candidate is an obvious one, but there are many more subtle ways of biasing the debate.
Elections are prone to become dirtier and dirtier as they near the election date. The time left to answer charges and counter them becomes shorter and shorter. Undecided voters will be influenced by the publicity.
Media bias is an extremely important and basically uncontrolled factor. The current election has been, in my opinion, unbelievably one-sided in this respect, favoring Clinton and constantly attacking Trump. I say this based on armchair empiricism. I can’t remember such one-sided media publicity. Every day I have scanned the headlines and articles using Google News. And every day there have been anti-Trump stories from all sorts of angles. Most of these misinterpret his remarks and thought, take them out of context and exaggerate. Meanwhile, Clinton’s very real illegalities and failures are played way down. Scandals that would torpedo anyone else are ignored. I sense that the Clinton campaign is operating full blast to spread disinformation about Trump and to dominate the media with stories, suggested and planted, to discredit him. Either his campaign has not sunk to this abysmal level or the media avoid such stories about Clinton.
American voting rules do not preclude this kind of media bias. We have free political speech. It’s up to voters to deal with what they are hearing and reading.
Is this media bias a form of rigging and fraud? There is no contract between voters and their “information” sources in media or on the internet. This basically rules out fraud between media and voters, apart from libel and slander. However, one can say almost anything about a candidate. A public figure cannot make a legal libel or slander case without proving that the accused slanderer operated with malicious intent or reckless disregard for the truth. Candidates do not bring such cases for any number of reasons.
The result is a free-for-all in which the rigging and/or fraud operates at a different level than literally manipulating votes in all the ways mentioned earlier, including hacking into computer systems. This communications level is not policed in America by anything other than the good sense of voters, and it’s difficult to see how it could be. Yet if voters gain most of their information from biased media sources, how can we expect anything but biased voting decisions to result?
The biggest media bias is that the media are geared to selling stories. They are an entertainment vehicle. The content of that entertainment varies, just as what Hollywood finds popular goes through cycles. Sometimes serious drama sells, sometimes horror stories, sometimes war movies, sometimes noir, sometimes comedy, etc. With the press, it’s the same. If trivial sex escapades are selling and not serious issues of war and peace, those are the stories that will prevail. If people are really concerned with Hillary’s reported bi-sexuality or Trump’s reported groping, those will dominate the current headlines until they are bumped off by some other headlines.
With registered voters, Clinton was recently at 59% unfavorable and Trump at 60% unfavorable. Neither candidate has succeeded in projecting to voters a positive conception of how they’d handle the presidency. Each is branded unfavorably. Is this on important issues like war and peace? My guess is that it’s not. My guess is that Clinton is seen as dishonest and perhaps incompetent because of her scandals while Trump is seen as sexist and racist.8:33 am on October 20, 2016