- File Size: 1920 KB
- Print Length: 317 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0300204434
- Publisher: Yale University Press (April 24, 2018)
- Publication Date: April 5, 2018
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07C11SZYZ
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #247,110 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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|Print List Price:||$15.00|
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As someone that has worked with elections in 30 different countries during the past 15 years, I can say the book is plagued with misinformation, misconceptions, prejudice, and false assumptions.
It is a bit ironic as one of the scourges of elections is misinformation! This book mostly creates additional confusion.
Not recommended at all
Mis-statement 1: Authors say that the Illinois 4th Congressional District was gerrymandered by the Republicans to create a lot of safe republican seats around the 4th by shoving two hispanic communities together in a Congressional District that is shaped like a large C.
Fact: Both the Governor and the state legislature was controlled by the democrat party at the last redistricting so this district was not created by the Republicans. Furthermore, all the surrounding Congressional Districts are all controlled by the Democrats. You can't blame the Republicans for this Congressional District.
Mis-statement 2: In 2012 David Dewhurst spent 11 million of his own money to upset incumbent Ted Cruz for the United State's Senate in Texas.
Facts: Ted Cruz was not an incumbent in 2012.
Top international reviews
Worse, in 2016, the Economist Intelligent Unit (EIU) downgraded the USA from a “full democracy” to a “flawed democracy”, not as supporters and Democrat workers of Hillary Clinton might proclaim due to the election of one Donald Trump, but because US democracy was decaying, with its subjects losing trust in its democratic institutions and its elected officials from the grassroots upwards, while the attempts by the Western powers to influence African states, like Kenya and Malawi, to adopt elections had failed miserably: they remained authoritarian like China and Saudi Arabia with the slight veneer of holding elections, so joining the growing majority club of similar authoritarian countries which the authors referred to as “counterfeit democracies”.
How to Rig an Election is composed around six chapters of around 30 pages each on the different approaches used beginning with the most traditional: like bribery, intimidation, violence, and electoral law which could have occurred historically in any society including the UK, but is still current, and newsworthy in the low GDP emerging world fully loaded with valuable raw materials, to the most recent technological methods where traditional paper ballots, and individuals manually counting them are being substituted by alternative electronic digitalized methods.
So heaps about Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda. They recount where “multiple” voting (supporters voting more than once), the dead, underage voters, and “ghost” voters from beyond the frontier in Niger and Cameroon, have been successfully mobilised in Nigeria; they reveal that bribery is so culturally acceptable, rampant and open in Thai politics, that the lucrative night before the election has even acquired a name, kheun maa hawn, meaning “the night of the howling dogs”, which sounds like an enormous stag freebee where the boys are let loose and paint the town in every hue, including red! It reminds one of Trollope’s George Vavassor in Can You Forgive Her? in putting down the “stumpy” for his election to thirsty electors of the Chelsea Districts Can You Forgive Her? (English Library) .
And in the chapter entitled Divide and Rule attacks on opposition – defamation, imprisonment, violence, and worse, is now a regular repeatable feature in 49% of elections in ex Soviet states: hit men are hired for political assassination in Kazakhstan, human rights watchdogs documented opponents being boiled alive in Uzbekistan; incidences multiplied countless times over in Kenya in the 1990s with over 2,000 deaths, the displacement of over 500,000 Kikuyus, or the ethnic cleansing genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda, making readers wonder what makes international observers either so strong or so insensitive to continue their thankless tasks.
Perhaps the most controversial section -because it is contemporary involving Trump, Clinton and the Russians, as well as Cambridge Analytica, the Leave side (and Brussels), concerns hacking. Indeed, one can begin by flying around a world of conspiracy theories, speculating that hacking was another unexplainable reason for the organized growth of Momentum and the changes in feelings and unexpected boom in popular support for Corbyn in the country during the last British General election when for virtually three years many in the Parliamentary Labour Party saw him as a embarrassing relic of a different age. The truth, perhaps, when we get there we’ll find our ideas still did not reach the frontiers of the technicians and scientists imaginations .
The authors do reveal that until his arrest in 2014 in Colombia, Andrés Sepúlveda, a gifted computer geek and specialist hacker, had hacked into opposition campaigns, defaced websites with digital graffiti, disseminated anonymously mass texts on line with misinformation, and for around ten years was handsomely paid throughout Latin America. Cambridge Analytica was also said to be paid $6 million in the campaign to support President Uhuru Kenyatta; now Trump’s son is known to have shared a tweet from a Kremlin-operated account on election day, with more than one instance of Russian government accounts being used to organize series of pro-Trump rallies which American citizens subsequently attended.
Denials, and rumours of rogue agents acting independently, come by the bucket full; however, it is becoming clearer to many neutral observers that these are more than mere coincidences but part of a global scheme of President Vladimir Putin intent on destabilizing the world and successfully dividing his foreign opponents and turning them against one another in a manner which his Soviet predecessors were unable to during the Cold War. For democracy and elections, the pride and virtue of openness and freedom in the Western liberal system of government, it proves to be one of its weaknesses, and seems it is the most dangerous expression of Putin’s foreign policy in the “post truth” political age; since if political assassination provides an instant short term local solution, such professional covert operations are proxy war strategies, more long term, and internationally planned, affecting conflicting national political and business aspirations, leaving opposing allies shocked, lost, confused, and afraid, no longer able to trust one another for months after; the perfect chess-like move to make before launching another “warlike” dawn attack elsewhere, and without being seen to mobilize the military.
The authors leave the most sickening fact to the close to drive their message through. At a moment in time when the voice of the most authoritarian state: China, is heard beyond Asia and throughout the African and Latin American continents in search of valuable new markets, there is a feeling that behind all the flag waving for freedom, and encouraging international observers, the West, and in particular the US, seems to subscribe to a mixture of hypercritical standards: while trying to force small nations, like The Gambia to cow down, it prefers to prioritize geopolitics, and explains why Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Uganda have received the special red carpet treatment in the so-called war against terror, and why Azerbaijan, headed by President Ilham Aliyev, a country with important gas resources, was freely allowed to flaunt its modern democratic credentials in public with the launch of an iPhone app during the 2013 elections to ensure voters kept up with the tallies in real time, except that those results could be seen the day before the polls opened. Russia and China consequently might describe democracy as simply a façade, a rebranded utopia to re-establish white colonialism, whereas they have little to give, just to exploit.
But maybe nothing on the inside is indeed what it seems in reality, and these younger nations are just following the lead of the pied piper, except currently the present piper isn’t Truman, or Reagan, but Trump, and he is not solely to blame. The authors, indeed, are compelled to note that the Jim Crow electoral laws are slowly returning in certain states under different guises, and because of gerrymandering – named after Vice President Gerry (never remembered for refusing to sign the original Constitution draft without a Bill of Rights which codified liberties like freedom of speech and of the press), in 2016 only eight Congressmen of the entire 435 House failed to be re-elected, the lowest turnover figure in the world, with the winners on average picking up 70%, a figure alike Russia and North Korea, while only in 35 cases were margins much closer. Most interesting; most worrying, as the same question gets asked elsewhere where elections are less competitive, if there is little chance to be elected, why bother to turn out and vote? Good question, but most difficult to answer for true democrats to convince the young and old sceptics.
All gloom? Well, maybe not completely as on average the author fall back to statistics and underline that only democratic countries with higher GDPs seem more affluent. Would Yale University Press get a big kick, or earn bucks if it was known that democracy and elections were on the way out and a thing of the past? Maybe for a while. The real problem, as the Cheeseman & Klaas discovered, that for whatever progress is achieved by qualified observers, truly independent electoral commissions, inquiries into the technological advances that destroy the voice of the people, of new laws, and more funds being allocated, every future election will be investigated and conducted as if fought like the last war. In addition, when one goes into a computer shop, though one will find various latest products for sale, these will be one, two or even three models behind those currently being manufactured and tested in the laboratories.
So those in charge will continue to lay the ground rules to command, and yet the authors also show that democracy in the emerging world is not just to stifle reform and divide the opposition; in assemblies they are attempts to freshen the elite – since unlike the US 50% of new incumbents are successful. Good sign! That would be hard for US Democrats like Hillary Clinton or President Obama to accept or admit that elections to African assemblies are more competitive than in the US, and US has to follow the new role model. Joking aside, that indeed would be something unique and worthwhile for Yale to promote and make money from.
The book is a wonderful informative work for social science students, journalists, legislators and administrators about the world outside and around them. It is something which the two authors would warn democrats what has been discovered about rigging, and so authoritarians will attempt to respond to new developments by adopting unfamiliar techniques or variations of previously used practices: one step forward, and two back. That’s why even when there are few or no significant changes some, while many citizens just sleep at night, true democrats love to dream about a tomorrow.
This book was recommended by the politics teacher
and as been worth the money