This year’s US Presidential Elections, as usual, were not short of drama. Bearing witness to everything from dramatic swinging victories in the Swing States, to controversial pleas doubting the authenticity of the results; leaving novices in the political avenue perplexed, to say the least.
“How can the elections be dramatic?”, “How can someone influence the results?” and “Why should it be a matter of concern?”; are some of the most common first thoughts that one would have.
To understand and answer these questions, one must discern how, and why, elections are rigged. Electoral fraud, in a layman’s dialect, is the act of interfering and/or influencing the conventional electoral procedure illegally.
Fraudsters often attempt to distort the election results in their favour. The resulting fraud takes on a panoply of forms. It ranges from procedural violations of electoral law (that may or may not intend to distort results) to outright use of violence to intimidate voters and poll watchers. Some of the very common electoral frauds are:
- Impersonation at the polls, absentee ballots, or duplicate voting.
- False registration.
- Disenfranchisement, the composition of an electorate may also be altered by disenfranchising some classes of people, rendering them unable to vote.
- Buying votes.
- Illegal “assistance” at the polls.
- Altering the vote count.
- Destruction or invalidation of ballots.
In elections, a conspicuous electoral fraud can potentially affect as adversely as a Coup D’état. Hereby, further fortifying that electoral fraud and other malpractices are serious threats to the election process, and the fundamentals of democracy, along with undermining the public’s best interest in the same. Although Election Commissions, around the world, enforce laws and prohibit illegal practices, one must be active in being agile and reporting malpractices and ensuring that the rights of the voters are protected.
A notable example would be the happenings in Belarus. Alexander Lukashenko, who is also being termed as “Europe’s last dictator” for his iron-fisted 26-year rule, had won a landslide victory in the August presidential elections. To many in Belarus, his victory seemed impossible and was subjected to strong opposition with an active voice. The opposition had refused to accept the results, claiming that there were irregularities in the balloting. Minsk, the capital, had witnessed massive protests questioning the authenticity of the election results, which were met by a police crackdown including mass detentions, beatings and criminal charges against organisers.
A poll worker, in Minsk, said she was asked to sign a document summing up its result, with the vote totals left blank.
Another worker, who pointed out violations during the vote-counting, was fired on spot.
While other election workers who saw ballot fraud were pressured to falsify results in favour of Lukashenko.
Such events keep reminding us, time to time, that no matter how beautiful our society becomes, the pursuit to lead it, is always ugly.
As it seems to be, The Modern Democracy seems to be turning into an infested body of its own enemies.
The question remains, that although there’s seldom any judicial finality to these claims, should they be given the benefit of doubt?
-Written and curated by Medhanand and Vummaneni Rishitha