1. You could try to rig the voters.

FIRST…

... you’d need to recruit some brave people, because voter fraud penalties can be five years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines.

THEN…

... you’d need poll workers — plural, because they work in pairs — to allow those people to vote more than once, or vote as someone else, or vote in the wrong jurisdiction.

ALSO…

... you’d need election officials, lawyers and trained observers to look the other way, including those representing the party of the candidate who would be hurt by the fraud.

FINALLY…

... you’d need to replicate this scenario over and over, because it takes far more illegal votes than you could submit at a single polling place to tip a state or even a county total.

That requires persuading a lot of people from both parties to break the law — and illustrates why voter fraud is extremely rare. The next option is…

1. You could try to rig the voters.

FIRST…

... you’d need to recruit some brave people, because voter fraud penalties can be five years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines.

THEN…

... you’d need poll workers — plural, because they work in pairs — to allow those people to vote more than once, or vote as someone else, or vote in the wrong jurisdiction.

ALSO…

... you’d need election officials, lawyers and trained observers to look the other way, including those representing the party of the candidate who would be hurt by the fraud.

FINALLY…

... you’d need to replicate this scenario over and over, because it takes far more illegal votes than you could submit at a single polling place to tip a state or even a county total.

That requires persuading a lot of people from both parties to break the law — and illustrates why voter fraud is extremely rare. The next option is…

2. You could try to hack the machines.

FIRST…

?

?

?

?

... you’d need to know where each machine would be used and what its ballots would look like in order to write your code, because hyper-local races make ballots different in nearly every precinct.

THEN…

... you just push your code out to all the machines, right? Nope! Voting machines aren’t connected to the Internet, so you’d have to break into every building and tamper with each machine.

TO DO THAT…

... you’d need to get around the numbered, tamper-resistant plastic seal on each machine. And the code would need to sleep until Election Day, because election officials — watched by party representatives — test all machines ahead of time.

AND AGAIN…

... you’d need to replicate this scenario over and over to tip a county or state. (Fairfax County, for instance, has 1,125 voting machines.)

Unless you have a huge team of politically motivated cat burglars at your disposal, this may not be the most efficient option. You’d need a bigger hack, so…

2. You could try to hack the machines.

FIRST…

?

?

?

?

... you’d need to know where each machine would be used and what its ballots would look like in order to write your code, because hyper-local races make ballots different in nearly every precinct.

THEN…

... you just push your code out to all the machines, right? Nope! Voting machines aren’t connected to the Internet, so you’d have to break into every building and tamper with each machine.

TO DO THAT…

... you’d need to get around the numbered, tamper-resistant plastic seal on each machine. And the code would need to sleep until Election Day, because election officials — watched by party representatives — test all machines ahead of time.

AND AGAIN…

... you’d need to replicate this scenario over and over to tip a county or state. (Fairfax County, for instance, has 1,125 voting machines.)

Unless you have a huge team of politically motivated cat burglars at your disposal, this may not be the most efficient option. You’d need a bigger hack, so…

3. You could try to finagle the numbers.

THERE’S A CHANCE…

... you could intercept numbers sent over the Internet from the precincts to the county or state and change them. The media might even report your bad numbers.

HOWEVER,…

Machines spit out printed tapes that contain their totals. Local officials (and all those observers) will know something is wrong if they see different numbers

than the ones they sent.

SO…

... you’d need everyone to keep quiet for days or even weeks, while results are checked, write-ins are counted and provisional votes are counted (or rejected). This process is public, and if the election is close, party observers and lawyers will be looking over every shoulder.

If your hack is discovered, you’re toast — unless ...

3. You could try to finagle the numbers.

THERE’S A CHANCE…

... you could intercept numbers sent over the Internet from the precincts to the county or state and change them. The media might even report your bad numbers.

NEWS DESK

HOWEVER,…

Machines spit out printed tapes that contain their totals. Local officials (and all those observers) will know something is wrong if they see different numbers than the ones they sent.

SO…

... you’d need everyone to keep quiet for days or even weeks, while results are checked, write-ins are counted and provisional votes are counted (or rejected). This process is public, and if the election is close, party observers and lawyers will be looking over every shoulder.

If your hack is discovered, you’re toast — unless ...

4. You could try to rig the electoral college.

THIS IS YOUR

LAST CHANCE…

... because this is the last step in choosing a president. A state’s portion of the 538 electors are usually chosen by the party that wins that state. Electors from 29 states (and the District) must vote for the candidate their voters picked. So you would need to persuade enough electors from other states to go rogue, giving your candidate the 270 votes required to win.

IF YOU SUCCEEDED…

... you’d have to convince the losing candidate, the party, and an army of lawyers not to contest the election. “That’s a great John Grisham novel, but I don’t think it’s realistic,” said GOP election lawyer Chris Ashby.

CONCLUSION

 

In the end, it’s nearly impossible to rig a U.S. presidential election, because the process is so transparent and intertwined.

 

It’s probably easier to just try to convince a lot of people to legally vote for your candidate — a tactic called democracy.

4. You could try to rig the electoral college.

THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE…

... because this is the last step in choosing a president. A state’s portion of the 538 electors are usually chosen by the party that wins that state. Electors from 29 states (and the District) must vote for the candidate their voters picked. So you would need to persuade enough electors from other states to go rogue, giving your candidate the 270 votes required to win.

IF YOU SUCCEEDED…

... you’d have to convince the losing candidate, the party, and an army of lawyers not to contest the election. “That’s a great John Grisham novel, but I don’t think it’s realistic,” said GOP election lawyer Chris Ashby.

CONCLUSION

 

In the end, it’s nearly impossible to rig a U.S. presidential election, because the process is so transparent and intertwined.

 

It’s probably easier to just try to convince a lot of people to legally vote for your candidate — a tactic called democracy.

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