A Philosopher's Blog

Rigged Election

Posted in Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on October 21, 2016

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been asserting that the presidential election will be rigged. He seems to have three main assertions regarding the rigging. The first is that the election is being rigged by “the dishonest media” who support “crooked Hillary.” The second is that the polling places are rigged. The third is that there will be widespread voter fraud.

Despite Trump’s assertions about a rigged election, Trump’s vice presidential pick Mike Pence has tried to assure the public that he and Trump will honor the results. Other Republicans have been critical of Trump’s remarks about the election being rigged and there is concern that such remarks are damaging to the American democratic process. There is, of course, a certain irony in the Republican reaction to Trump. This is because Trump is using hyperbolic versions of established Republican tactics.

The idea that the media has a liberal bias which puts conservatives at a disadvantage in the polls dates back to at least the time of Nixon. However, more traditional Republicans have not gone as far as Trump in their attacks on the media. He is thus not breaking new ground, but going to new distances on that ground. Trump does, however, differ in that he seems to merge the alleged media bias in with the rigging of elections. These are, obviously enough, two distinct matters. While the media presumably influences people, this is different from rigging an election. Such rigging involves improper tampering with the actual voting process and not influencing voters.

It is also somewhat ironic that Trump is pre-blaming the media for his possible defeat, given that he is partially a creation of that same media. While estimates do vary, it is believed that Trump received $2-3 billion in free media coverage. While it could be argued that Trump would have become the Republican nominee without this media support, it certainly seems reasonable to consider this a significant factor in his success. This past largesse from the media does not, of course, prove that the media is not biased against him now.

The question of whether the media is biased against Trump is somewhat problematic. On the one hand, most people in the media (liberal and conservative) seem to dislike Trump considerably. This is certainly worth taking into account when critically assessing media coverage of Trump. On the other hand, the majority of the negative coverage is negative because of what Trump does and says and not because the media is twisting the stories. This matter can be settled with considerable effort by having objective experts review all the news coverage of Trump for factual accuracy and the presence of negative bias against him. However, if the results of such an analysis revealed that the coverage was generally accurate, Trump would presumably dismiss the expert analysis as biased and the experts as stupid losers.

Trump’s claim that the electoral process itself will be rigged is one that is quite unusual—Democrats and Republicans generally do not question the integrity of the general process. While rare and isolated incidents are not unknown, the integrity of the system itself seems solid. As others have claimed, this unwarranted attack is potentially dangerous to the American political process and could have harmful consequences. Trump’s use of this tactic would thus seem to indicate either his ignorance or his lack of ethics. Or possibly both.

While Trump’s broad attack on the presidential election is unfounded, his attack does borrow some credibility from legitimate concerns. One is the revelation that the Democratic Party seemed to be stacking the deck for Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders. This does raise concerns about the fairness of the party—but it would be something of a leap to take this as evidence that the general election will be rigged against Trump.

Another concern arises from all the various tricks, such as gerrymandering, that are used to modify local elections in favor of certain candidates. While methods are a problem, these tactics would generally not work on a national level. For example, gerrymandering is out. Also, rigging the election in enough states to cost Trump the election would be rather difficult and all but impossible to hide. This is not to say that there are not people who would like to rig it against Trump (or Hillary), just that there are massive logistic and secrecy challenges that they could almost certainly not overcome. In light of this, it seems certain that the election process itself is not rigged against Trump. This is something Paul Ryan and I agree on.

While Republicans are broadly opposing Trump’s assertion about a rigged election, his assertion about voter fraud is a page from the established Republican playbook. While Pence has not backed Trump on the idea that the election is rigged, Pence does support voter ID laws. These ID laws and other methods (such as reducing early voting opportunities) are defended by arguing that voter fraud presents a threat to the integrity of elections. While it is true that voter fraud is not non-existent, all the evidence shows that it almost never occurs. Given that the fraud is almost entirely mythical and the methods proposed by Republicans to combat it disproportionally impact groups more likely to vote for Democrats than Republicans, the logical inference is that these methods are aimed at “rigging” elections in favor of Republicans. As such, Trump is right to be worried that there is something going on aimed at unfairly influencing the election. Ironically, these attempts would seem to be in his favor and not to his disadvantage.

Trump has thus created yet another problem for Republicans. The traditional Republicans generally do not want voters to doubt the legitimacy of elections, but they do want voters to believe that voter fraud exists and must be countered by the means they propose. However, to the degree they succeed in raising fears about voter fraud, they serve to undermine confidence in elections and thus they feed Trump. Trump’s gift to the Republicans has been connecting their notion of voter fraud with his notion that the election will be rigged. This is not a gift they want.

To combat this alleged fraud, Trump has urged his followers to go to polling stations to keep an eye out for it. While voters do have the right to a fair election process, Trump seems to be implying that his followers should engage in voter intimidation—a tactic often used against minority voters in the past. Trump, of course, does not directly say this and his wording, as it so often does, allows him to deny that he is directly urging his followers to do such a thing—even though the message seems to have been received by some.

In addition to being illegal, such intimidation is fundamentally immoral in a democracy. It would also be a form of election rigging, something Trump professes to hate. At least when the rigging is supposed to be against him.


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  1. ajmacdonaldjr said, on October 21, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Dead people registered to vote in Virginia, a toss-up state https://youtu.be/FYjuRkMrlZU
    Hundreds of dead people found casting ballots in Los Angeles https://youtu.be/QOUUb7iuA2w
    Investigation Finds Dead Voters Casting Ballots In Colorado http://cbsloc.al/2cL9COn
    Voter registration fraud investigation expands to 57 counties http://wane.com/2016/10/06/voter-registration-fraud-investigation-expands-to-57-counties/
    Top Indiana election official alleges more voter fraud http://indy.st/2eO5bD3
    Democrat Election Commissioner Caught on Camera Admits: “There Is a Lot of Vote Fraud” http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/politics/item/24296-democrat-election-commissioner-caught-on-camera-admits-there-is-a-lot-of-vote-fraud

  2. ronster12012 said, on October 21, 2016 at 9:19 am


    This is getting very silly. Of course the system is rigged against Trump…why else has Hillary not been charged vis a vis the emails? Why has the FBI been able to get away with this corruption without the MSM asking the hard questions? Why is Michelle Obama allowed to shriek at Trump about his comments from ten years ago when she is quite happy to be friends in the present, along with her husband, of Jay Z, whose song lyrics, many times worse than Trumps relatively mild private comments, go unchallenged? And if I can figure out that glaring double standard without any effort, why can’t your MSM ask the same question?

    “The question of whether the media is biased against Trump is somewhat problematic. On the one hand, most people in the media (liberal and conservative) seem to dislike Trump considerably. ”

    I thought that the media were supposed to be objective and personal feelings should not come into it. Insofar as they let personal feelings intrude upon their reporting they are not being real journalists, rather cheerleaders.

    And talking about what he has actually said, what has he said that was so wrong? No moslems? Top idea IMO, see Europe, there is no reason to expect that moslems will behave any differently in the US than in Europe.
    A wall across the Mexican border? No borders =no country, it is that simple. Bring jobs back to the US? What is bad about that? Revise NAFTA? Excellent idea, that may stop Mexican farmers from being bankrupted by cheap corn import and heading north.

    And the most important thing he has said that stands head and shoulders above trivia about nailing hot chicks etc, is that he is not interested in potentially starting WW3 with Russia in support of ISIS/Al Qaeda in Syria, as Hillary apparently wants to do.It is that serious. I am amazed that your election process as reported by the MSM is all about trivia, when such serious issues are at stake.Hillary=globalist scum, Trump = nationalist.

    “While it is true that voter fraud is not non-existent, all the evidence shows that it almost never occurs.”

    The link you gave was only the WaPo…another MSM lying rag. Why you have such naive faith in them is beyond me.

    Here’s another link, where a former Voting Section Attorney at the DOJ says there are 4 million ineligable voters.http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2016/10/elections-expert-now-4-million-ineligible-dead-voters-american-voter-rolls-video/

    Who’s right? Dunno, but there is no reason to take any MSM on trust.

    “To combat this alleged fraud, Trump has urged his followers to go to polling stations to keep an eye out for it. While voters do have the right to a fair election process, Trump seems to be implying that his followers should engage in voter intimidation—a tactic often used against minority voters in the past. Trump, of course, does not directly say this and his wording, as it so often does, allows him to deny that he is directly urging his followers to do such a thing—even though the message seems to have been received by some.”

    That is drawing a long bow….Surely voters have a right to scrutinize election results and to act as observers. Are you saying that they shouldn’t concern themselves with election integrity? Though I don’t really think that they will be able to see much anyway,given that it is all too easy to manipulate voting machines.

    As for the real question about vote rigging in presidential elections, you don’t even vote directly for the prez in the first place, only for electoral college votes, many of which are not even legally obligated to vote as the voters want. no?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 21, 2016 at 3:02 pm

      Trump seems to be claiming that the election process itself is rigged, which is a different issue than the issue regarding Hillary’s emails. Of course, Trump is notoriously unclear in his claims.

      As to why Hillary has not been charged, the main reason seems to be that the FBI did not find grounds on which to charge her. I am not a legal expert, so I cannot really attest to whether there is or is not a legitimate legal case for her being charged with a crime. Naturally, one could debate about whether what she did should be a crime or not, but that is also another issue.

      If there really was something going on here worthy of punishment, the easy and obvious why she was not charged is analogous to why folks like the leadership of Wells Fargo were not charged. The elites craft the rules and also control how they are applied. Hillary clearly uses this to her advantage as does Trump.

      I get that people hate Hillary and take their hate to entail that she must have broken the law, but this does not follow. Likewise, I get that people hate Trump, but this hate does not entail that it is true that he has groped women. What is needed is actual evidence.

      I am not going to defend Hillary beyond saying that the official investigation cleared her. Beyond that, I have nothing really to say beyond how happy I will be to see this election cycle end and how horrified I will be in 2020 if the Republicans do not come up with a good candidate to run against Hillary. Or, if Trump wins, the Democrats.

      • ronster12012 said, on October 25, 2016 at 3:34 am

        “Trump seems to be claiming that the election process itself is rigged, which is a different issue than the issue regarding Hillary’s emails. Of course, Trump is notoriously unclear in his claims.”

        It may only be an apparently different issue.Any contest where one of the contestants is not entitled to actually take part is by definition rigged. In Hillary’s case, the question to ask is whether she would be the nominee if she had been charged. The answer is clearly no, as that would enable Trump to remind voters that even if she won she would be removed as president upon conviction. End of Campaign Hillary there and then.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 25, 2016 at 6:41 pm

          Sure, we can talk about rigging in general, but it helps matters of discussion to be more precise in our terms.

          • TJB said, on October 26, 2016 at 10:37 am

            Mike, do you agree that the Dem primary was rigged against Bernie Sanders?

      • DH said, on October 25, 2016 at 4:13 pm

        You said in a later post that “The party machinery had a strong role here; Hillary insists on being president and they owe her and Bill.” Is that not in and of itself evidence of rigging? What do they owe her for? That Barack Obama was their nominee in 2008 instead of her? Was that a party decision? What happened to the will of the people?

        What has she done for them for which they owe her such a big debt – or is it a matter of blackmail – that the Clintons have damaging information about everyone in Congress, and the feckless weasels are too timid to speak out against her for fear of their own political careers?

        The fact that she has gotten away with everything she has – especially in light of the FBI’s reluctance to prosecute and recent information about McAuliffe and the questionable campaign donations point to the extent to which the “Party Machinery” is willing to look the other way and outright cover up for her.

        I don’t believe that anyone – especially those in the “party” or high-up in government, have any fantasies about her criminal behavior – but the question of guilt or innocence is not part of the equation for her. It’s not even a matter of “Plausible Deniability” any more. It’s about power, influence and payback.

        Perhaps voting booths have not been hacked, but there are more ways than one to make sure that your candidate gets placed regardless of the will of the people.

  3. TJB said, on October 21, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Meanwhile, Hillary claims that the Russians are trying to rig the election and nobody bats an eye.

    Meanwhile, just last week. Why is Hillary nodding her head, Mike?

    • ronster12012 said, on October 21, 2016 at 9:44 am


      Some say that she has an earpiece through which she is fed answers, hence the nodding.

      Some also say that she has a teleprompter in her podium, unlike Trump.


      If that is true what does it say???

      • TJB said, on October 21, 2016 at 10:14 am

        The one thing to remember about Hillary is that nothing she does is by accident.

        I think I’m going to start calling her Lady Macbeth.

        • ronster12012 said, on October 21, 2016 at 10:38 am


          Surely Lady MacBeth doesn’t deserve to be compared to Hillary, no?

          • TJB said, on October 21, 2016 at 12:49 pm

            I still can’t believe the Democrats decided to go “with her.” Also, I can’t believe that Bill has slept with her for the last 20 years. Presumably she has had some sort of sex life. What do we know about it?

            Having the Big Dog back in the White House with no leash will be quite the spectacle.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 21, 2016 at 3:12 pm

              The party machinery had a strong role here; Hillary insists on being president and they owe her and Bill.

              The Republican party showed that the will of the people who vote can beat the will of the party elites; at least when most Republicans don’t vote in the primaries.

              Some things are best left unknown.

        • ronster12012 said, on October 21, 2016 at 11:23 am


          If she is wearing an earpiece or has a teleprompter, does this not demonstrate intent to deceive? Along with media complicity? And should not some theoretically objective journalist be all over it, if only to debunk the story? Of course Hillary would never do such a thing, so she deserves to have this slight against her honour thoroughly examined and shown to be just another disgusting right wing conspiracy theory?

  4. ajmacdonaldjr said, on October 24, 2016 at 8:32 pm

  5. ajmacdonaldjr said, on October 25, 2016 at 1:55 pm

  6. ajmacdonaldjr said, on October 25, 2016 at 2:00 pm

  7. ajmacdonaldjr said, on October 26, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    • WTP said, on October 26, 2016 at 9:05 pm

      And Mike sticks his fingers in his ears and goes, “lalalaimnotlisteninglalalalala”

  8. TJB said, on October 26, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    Mike, by supporting HRC you own Robert Creamer.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 28, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      I do? Is that even legal?

      • TJB said, on October 28, 2016 at 3:04 pm

        I see you are practicing, Mike.

        Henry who kept pressing her saying, “you said you were in charge of it [the server]. You were the official in charge. Did you wipe the server?”

        “Like with a cloth or something?” responded Clinton.

  9. ronster12012 said, on October 26, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    Your former assistant secretary of the treasury thinks that rigged elections are an american tradition.


  10. WTP said, on October 27, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    Scott Adams on Dilbert.com. Thoughts? I mean of course, thoughts from those of you of the thinking persuasion. ..

    The biggest buzz from the debate seems to be Trump’s refusal to say in advance that he would accept the election results if they went against him. The pro-Clinton pundits are framing that as another example of Trump’s terribleness. But of course it is nothing but Trump keeping all of his options open as he does in every other situation when he can. He wants to maintain the right to complain later if the result looks rigged to him. That seems reasonable to me, and no real danger to the Republic. But the Clinton-friendly parts of the media will make it a thing this week.

    If you want a reason to be worried, ask yourself why the mainstream media is so keen on framing the election as “not rigged.” The message I’m getting from them, collectively, is that they think it will be. (Because it will be.) We just don’t know how much the rigging will matter.

    Why do I say it will be rigged?

    Because whenever humans have motive, opportunity, a high upside gain, and low odds of detection, shenanigans happen 100% of the time. Our vote-counting systems have plenty of weak spots. Rigging (to some degree) is a near guarantee.

    And keep in mind that Team Clinton has framed Trump as the next Hitler. That gives every citizen moral cover to do outrageous things to stop him. The stakes are sky-high. In this environment, it would truly be a miracle to have an unrigged election. But again, we don’t know how much rigging there will be. It might not be enough to matter.

    There will almost certainly be election rigging for the same reason there has been debate rigging. If you don’t believe me about debate rigging, ask a woman who did some of that debate rigging herself.Allegedly. Unless it was Russia’s fault.

  11. ajmacdonaldjr said, on October 28, 2016 at 9:32 pm

  12. ajmacdonaldjr said, on October 31, 2016 at 8:33 am

    • ronster12012 said, on November 1, 2016 at 7:17 am


      You americans need a “Treasonwatch.org”(which I notice BTW is available for only $299….the question is, why isn’t it being used right now) to catalogue all acts of treason great and small and to note who was responsible for them. All for future reference. What point is there in having a Day of the Rope when no one can remember who needs the rope?

      The problem as I see it is that most people have such short memories. That only encourages the scum to do what they want.

  13. WTP said, on November 6, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    White people (certain elite college and similar white people) think black people are too dumb to figure how to get an ID. Black people puzzled as to why white people would think that they don’t know how to get an ID.

    Which do you suppose is closer to negligible? The number of minorities who can’t figure out how to get an ID or the number of fraudulent votes counted? Why do you think that?

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