Rigged elections for me but not for thee

Donald Trump created quite the stir a few days ago when he suggested that the forthcoming Presidential election was going to be “rigged.”  I’m not sure what exactly he meant by that, or even if it’s worth debating, but I did see my Tweeter feed respond with real furor.  This will undercut faith in democracy I read, and thus the media needs to call him out on it.  Yet over the last few years or indeed decades I also have seen the following:

1. Numerous arguments insist that money buys elections and campaign finance reform is imperative.  That’s not exactly my view, with Trump himself now being Exhibit A on the other side of the issue, but please try to be consistent.  A lot of you believe that elections are (were?) rigged!  (Hey, psst…when can we go back to them being rigged againAsking for a friend!)

2. Numerous arguments that Republican-backed voter registration requirements are keeping significant numbers of voters, most of all minority voters, away from the polls.  That wouldn’t quite count as “rigging,” because the outcome still is not preordained, but it would be a form of slanting.

3. Not long ago, the conventional wisdom was that the race would be Clinton (Hillary) vs. Bush (Jeb).  Fortunately, that is not rigging, rather we call it “spontaneous order.”  Besides, it didn’t happen.  We ended up with Clinton vs…Tormentor of Bush.

4. Do we not all teach the Gibbard-Sattherthwaite theorem to our Principles classes on week three?  In case you forget, the theorem shows that under some fairly general assumptions elections processes are manipulable in a rigorous sense which is defined in social choice theory.  You can think of this as a corollary of the Arrow Impossibility Theorem, actually.

People, I am so glad we don’t teach our students that elections are rigged, it is so much more important to teach that they are “manipulable” in the precise sense defined by social choice theory.  Sadly, Mr. Trump failed that part of the course, because the silly boy wrote down the word “rigged” instead and botched the whole answer, heal so messed up the distinction between inter- and intra-profile versions of the theorem.

5. A related branch of social choice theory, stemming from Dick McKelvey’s work in 1979, suggests that when the policy space has more than one dimension, the agenda setter in Congress has a great deal of power and typically can shape the final outcome.  True, that is Congress rather than a general democratic election.  By the way, how many dimensions does the policy space have these days?  If you’re not sure, that means the answer is “more than one.”  Good thing that only “Congress keystone of the Washington establishment” is rigged!

6. Major political scientists from schools such as Princeton tell us that elites determine policy and ordinary voters have very little say in what happens.  Don’t know if he used “the r word” or not!  (By the way, I agree with the critique of Dylan Matthews.)

7. The American electoral system is designed to give the two major parties a huge initial advantage.  I’m not suggesting that the public is actually itching to elect Jill Stein, but it would shape final outcomes a good deal, for better or worse, if the electoral playing field were more even in this regard.

Personally, I think median voters more or less get what they want on a large number of issues, especially broad-based ones in the public eye.  You won’t find the word “rigged” popping up too much in the MR search function, besides I started blogging (and breathing) after Kennedy vs. Nixon.  But my goodness, I can in fact understand why Donald Trump thinks the system is rigged.  For years, you have been telling him that it is.

p.s. I don’t in fact teach the Gibbard-Sattherthwaite theorem in Principles and you won’t find it in the world’s very best Principles textbook.  That we rigged.

Addendum: How many Democrats have alleged that the 2000 Presidential election was rigged?  Or that today most Americans want some form of tougher gun control, but that the system is rigged against that outcome happening?


There's at least a 50% chance the 1982 gubernatorial election in Illinois wasn't rigged:


The most likely theory is that the side that would have won without any cheating ultimately did win, but only due to cheating.

Tyler and Alex, I love the videos, but this feels like an info commercial.


Have you guys considered getting Russ Roberts to do some videos? He has a lot of experience with public economics.

A 50% chance? I want the chance an election was *not* rigged to start with 0.9, end with a 9 and have a few 9s in between.

Forget it, Alan. It's Illinois.

So Alan would prefer 0.99 to 0.9998?

Er I mean: prefer 0.99999 to 0.9999991.

"The most likely theory is that the side that would have won without any cheating ultimately did win, but only due to cheating."

Oh, well, carry on, then, I guess.

I have never voted for Democrats and I think the Bush-Gore election was rigged.

This comes after reading the work of Greg Palast. Especially the discussions surrounding the Ohio voting specifics during the Bush Gore election:

Reading all about the Diebold machines and the company that runs them did not alleviate my fear of rigged elections. Watching the numerous popular documentaries (HBO's :Hacking Democracy")

also this testimony helped deepen my cynicism https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1thcO_olHas

I do not want Trump to be president. I don't like to even appear to be sympathetic towards him....but I find the astounding hypocrisy and self contradiction of the politically correct crowd to be a thing of awe.

We'll go back to "getting money out of politics" (to end rigging of course) as soon as Hillary as elected.

You mean after Obama--who was for public financing before he was against it during his election bids--got money out of politics.

And all people who oppose Medicare decide to opt out of it when they turn 65, right?

And all the people who oppose Medicare, and who have been forced to pay into it during all of their working lives, opt out of it when they turn 65, right?

Suppose Medicare offered those who are turning 65 the option to have all their Medicare tax payments returned in the form of a credit that could be used for private insurance of their choice. I think very few people would take up that option.

Unlike Obama (who as a candidate for the nation's highest office ought to be held to a somewhat higher standard), those people do not make and then break a promise to their fellow citizens not to take advantage of the program while it exists.

Can someone explain to the particularly slow-witted, like me, how money in politics influences elections? At least on the electorate side - I'm sure Diebold, the RNC, the DNC, MSNBC, Fox, etc can be bought.

However, if Hillary were to personally drive to my house and hand me a case of $10M, I'd accept it and then revel in the fact we have secret ballots. Same with Trump, actually. I have a hard time believing that many voters have been swayed in this yearlong debacle because of money. Likewise, there's no force on earth powerful enough to make my wife vote anything other than Clinton.

In any case, banning money in politics is a little like banning hunger or crime. Money in politics is a symptom, not the actual problem. If $10M gets a company $100M, the problem is how the company gets a return on its investment, not the donation itself.

It's so frustrating being so retarded! Help me out please!

the biggest influence of money is just getting a base level of knowledge of/definition of the candidates (and thus the less sexy moneyball approach would be to focus on house races)

"how money in politics influences elections?"

Money pays for the dissemination of political speech, such as through television advertising. While political speech isn't guaranteed to sway votes, so it would indeed be an overstatement to say that money "buys" elections, political speech can influence voting. Otherwise, why would people bother trying to disseminate such speech?

Banning money in politics is not really like banning hunger or crime. It's more like adopting socialized medicine. In principle, people should have a right to spend their own money to buy the best possible health care. However, that results in unequal outcomes because some people can afford better healthcare than others. Socialized medicine allows the government to try to ensure that no one can get better healthcare than the average. Similarly, when we allow unlimited political speech, some people can disseminate much more of their speech than others. Limiting campaign spending allows the government to ration everyone's speech so that everyone gets the same amount (except for professional media, such as the New York Times, whose political speech does not count as campaign spending).

"Socialized medicine allows the government to try to ensure that no one can get better healthcare than the average." I love this, a concise definition of socialism. First of all, it is utterly nonsensical: if we are talking about "average," then some people are getting better healthcare than others. Otherwise we would have an identity, not an average. Secondly, by this principle health care can never improve. The first person to be cured by an antibiotic was getting "better health care than the average," disallowed by principle. Thirdly, it is an absolute abrogation of liberty. Your body and your health is no longer your own. Government hacks will decide how much and what quality (average) health care you will receive. Since the apparent evil here is that "some people can afford better health care than others," people must be prohibited from purchasing disallowed treatments.

This is so wrong on so many levels.

Socialized Medicine. particularly single payer is designed to assure that everyone gets health care when they need it. To accomplish this everyone also contributes.

In every country that offers socialized medicine individuals are free to pursue their additional or more expensive care out of their own pocket, it does not absolve them of their responsibility to contribute to the common good.

Otherwise, why would people bother trying to disseminate such speech?

Half of my advertising budget is wasted, but I don't know which half.

Why do people post political stuff on Facebook? Because they think it matters. That doesn't mean it actually matters. I know that more than a few times someone has come to me determined to convince me of X and ended up pushing me towards ^X.

The point is that money influences elections only and in the same sense that political speech itself influences elections. One can't really separate political speech from the means of disseminating it.

There are some court rulings that say you are allowed to take a selfie in the ballot box showing how you voted. Buyable verifiable votes may be on the way.

And again I will reiterate my very strong desire for ranked-choice voting. Gary Johnson, having spent perhaps a grand total of 1000$, could easily win this election cycle if we had the single-transferable vote or a borda count. PLEASE America, make this an issue, not this 'money in politics, Citizens United' nonsense!

Trump and Clinton wouldn't stand a chance. And the Republican primaries wouldn't have been such a mess that can only be brought to you by first-past-the-post... and why the heck is the President such an important office, anyway? Congress needs to take its power back! Sigh... I'm being just a dumb kansas hick, what do I know.

+1 for ranked choice voting

We shouldn't have ranked choice for POTUS. There is exactly one POTUS and he's supposed to be a compromise.

I might be willing to support approval voting, where each voter marks all the candidates that are acceptable to them, and only the one with the most approval ratings gets it. I'd need to think about it some more.

And ranked choice for most other elections is good.

Ive seen this argument made time and again and it always gets demolished by an ounce of reason. Either hildawg or the don will win. Exactly what compromise will have occurred, beyond our moral compass?

Gary Johnson or Random Schmuck would be a compromise both a trmpeter and a clintonista could agree on.

The word youre looking for is plurality not compromise, and it reeks of faction.

The primary process selects for centrist candidates. Clinton is very conservative for a Democrat, and Trump is very liberal for a Republican.

Not very well. Actually, it seems it does the opposite.

I dont see how you really believe NeverTrumpers and NeverHellary voters compromise on Trump.

Clinton is very conservative for a Democrat,

Put the bong down. The closest thing to 'very conservative' for a Democrat was James Webb. He voted with the Democratic caucus in the Senate > 80% of the time.

"Clinton is very conservative for a Democrat."

No, the evidence doesn't really support that.

"Hillary Clinton Was the 11th Most Liberal Member of the Senate"


"Clinton was one of the most liberal members during her time in the Senate. According to an analysis of roll call votes by Voteview, Clinton’s record was more liberal than 70 percent of Democrats in her final term in the Senate. She was more liberal than 85 percent of all members. Her 2008 rival in the Democratic presidential primary, Barack Obama, was nearby with a record more liberal than 82 percent of all members — he was not more liberal than Clinton."


See Donald Horowitz on the utility of the alternate vote in divided societies. His thesis: it promotes vote pooling and militates against the most intense elements in the political field.

another +1 for ranked choice voting, allows people to pick who they really want in order (no need for strategic voting like voting for a candidate simply because your #1 choice may not be seen as having serious chance to get more first place votes than anyone else), distinguishes between being someone's second choice & being their last option

It's interesting, I came to this after just reading the Wired article on Civis and how big data campaigns are run these days:


I would say money is less a factor than many believe, but more than that, data is changing everything. Trump's campaign as meme is dying in a member of ways, but not least because he never understood his electoral college prospects.

As I said before, Clinton's focus on gun control is a move from strength. I think the data is giving her that confidence.

(A statistically astute observer should say 2000 came down to a coin toss. The result was within the margin of error. The lesson is to win by 51%, not the proverbial 50% + 1 vote)

Shorter: if someone is counting "chads," you didn't win by enough.

Until he picked a fight with a dead soldier's parents, Trump was either ahead at 538 or only needing to flip one state that was barely (less than 1.0 percentage point leaning) in the Clinton column. Whatever Trump's defects, it wasn't him not understand the electoral college.

Agree that 2000 was statistically a tie in Florida.

That article says polls are imprecise and noisy (we are down to less than 1% or response to landline calls?). The data we don't see are the overnight Monte Carlo voting results based on big data voter preference models.

I deduce from Clinton's actions that those results have always been strong.

I don't know for sure, but that's the way I read it. Perhaps that comes down to Clinton having negatives, but lower negatives than Trump, all along.

Well, when the President of the united states of america says on the candidate of a major party:

"Unfit for presidency"
"Woefully unprepared"
"There has to come a point at which you say somebody who makes those kinds of statements doesn’t have the judgment, the temperament, the understanding to occupy the most powerful position in the world because a lot of people depend on the White House getting stuff right"
"This goes beyond the normal hurly-burly of policy disagreements between Democrats and Republicans, Obama said. The former host of The Apprentice is in quite another category"

You might start to wonder - if he thinks Trump presidency would be so bad, how far is he willing to go to stop it?

1) Pim Fortuyn had it coming
2) The pro-immigration, anti-Islamophobia leftist who assassinated Pim Fortuyn was just some kind of animal rights nut. A complete loon!
3) We shall never speak of Pim Fortuyn again.

One could make an analogous set of statements about the murder of MP Jo Cox in the U.K. What is your point?

If Trump is assassinated by, say, a Washington Post subscriber who takes seriously what he is put in front of him every day, what will the media reaction be?

Back in 2002, much of the European establishment's initial reaction to the Dutch candidate for the prime ministership being assassinated was that he had it coming for daring to dissent on immigration policy.

The next round was, well, the killer was an animal rights crazy.

But that turned out to be wrong. The assassin was a well-educated, relatively stable white Dutch leftist, a legal professional with a girlfriend and a child, who told the court he killed Fortuyn to protect Muslims. (He's been out of prison for a few years now, so maybe he's had the last laugh.)

The assassin killed Fortuyn the day after the end of the two week election runoff in France between Chirac and Jean-Marie Le Pen in which all of respectable Europe had gone nuts over the far right menace. Any connection? I'd say so, but it doesn't come up much. It was kind of like if the day after Trump loses, Kris Kobach gets assassinated in Kansas by a John Oliver fan.

Here are some example of the he-had-it-coming responses to the assassination of Pim Fortuyn in 2002:

In response to his killing, El Mundo, a leading Spanish paper, cast much of the blame on the victim in convoluted but clearly angry prose: "A criminal response to the incendiary racist calls of these distant heirs of Nazism, introduces a terrible new element in a Europe that is fearful and harassed by demagoguery: that of vengeful violence, which can only engender more violence." ...

Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel implied that the dead man had been just too darn democratic for a modern Euro-democracy: "Democratic parties have to campaign in a very cautious way, and in a balanced and serene way to try to orientate the debate toward democratic values."

The Irish Times editorialized, "It is the very essence of democracy to allow anti-democratic views to be expressed." Apparently, trying to win an election on an anti-immigration plank is inherently "anti-democratic."

Mainstream newspapers and politicians hinted that Fortuyn was a racist, a fascist or even a Nazi. The Irish Times went on: "Nevertheless the murder will serve to highlight the rise of the far right in European politics and may in the long run gain votes for those involved in simplistic, racially-motivated campaigns. Today, on the 57th anniversary of the defeat of fascism, such trends strike a sad note."

Norman Lamont, the former Tory chancellor of the exchequer, wrote, "Britain has been fortunate to avoid the rise of extreme Right-wing, hateful politicians like Jean-Marie Le Pen and Pim Fortuyn, the Dutchman who was murdered in Hilversum."

Aftonbladet, the leading circulation Swedish newspaper, weighed in with, "The brown parties of Europe have a new martyr." Brown was Hitler's color.


If we don't lie and pretend that you are lovely people, we're responsible for violence against you? Bless, you have become soft since eighty years ago.


If you'd just stop lying it'd be okay. Heard another story today on NPR about poor Micheal Brown the poster child for BLM, what a joke, the guy was a criminal that had just robbed a liquor store and assaulted a cop when he was rightfully gunned down. Never will one hear that side of the story on NPR. Why are they still propping this up? Because it's propaganda meant to manipulate idiots like you (or at least those of your kind that are less indoctrinated).

I heard that same story. I liked how they said "it's become an annual tradition on the anniversary of Brown's death..." after having mentioned that this was only the second anniversary. So whatever it was NPR was talking about, it's been done twice now, which makes I guess meets the bare minimum requirements for "tradition" but still seemed odd. But it's NPR, so...you know.

Do you have anything to say about the assassination of MP Jo Cox? Or is your mention of political assassinations simply a cheap attempt to score points?

Jo Cox had it coming. Because of The Narrative. Why should we be surprised when Steve Sailerites start acting Steve Sailer-y? It's just what happens when Steve Sailerites get together. We shall never speak of Jo Cox again.

A man who agreed with you politically actually tried to kill Trump. You didn't care and the media didn't care. You and Millian are such intense and frequent liars because to moral relativists, lying isn't wrong. You are both sociopathetic facists.

When 50 leading Republicans and some Republican Congressmen and a Senator or two say the same thing , may be , just maybe there is some truth to it?

My aged mother was talking to an old family friend. He told her ththahe believes California's wildfires are being set by Muslims. He also believes Trump is qualified for President.

Hell, he is core demographic.

Muslims are tge most peaceful people on Earth, and Obama said that if you don't treat them nicely, they will murder you.

Obama did also say repeatedly that its ultimately up to the American people, and if they choose Trump, then he'll be the next President. You could assume he's lying about that, but if you're willing to assume he's lying, why not start with his pronouncements that Trump is unfit?

Maybe Obama did say that - and I believe Obama would never intentionally rig the election - but this is a matter of language and perceptions.
The langauge used, by both sides, is way over the top - from Nazi Racist to "Lock her up!".
This is crazy. Some people don't take it very seriously, but enough do. Sometimes it is enough that some believe that, and decide to do something about it -
rig the election, assasination, etc.
Things like that have happened before.
I would expect a Calm figure like Obama to say something like - "I think Trump is really bad candidate, but America won't fall to pieces if he is eleceted, don't do anything stupid"
I hope there is someone in the other side to say the same about Hillary.

You might start to wonder – if he thinks Trump presidency would be so bad, how far is he willing to go to stop it?

Sounds like just giving Trump a platform to speak is doing more than enough.

(to stop his presidency)

The important takeaway being the moral relativist lefty not believing in an inherent right to free speech.

You seem to be a little slow. Free speech is a great thing. Letting trump speak is the easiest way to stopping his presidency.

Isn't this making an argument that Trump never tried to make? He wasn't having a philosophical discourse on the nature of choice in a first past the post two party system. He was just saying "if I lose, it can only be due a conspiracy against me."

It has grown rather tiresome to see people create complex defenses of the simple ramblings of Trump.

He's not defending Trump. Rather, he's pointing out why someone like Trump would say such things, and why many people would buy it.

Trump needs Republican poll watcher volunteers to be motivated to show up on Election Day. It's not clear that the Republican Party will send poll watchers on its own, so Trump is trying to motivate his supporters to volunteer.

As a former Chicagoan, I can assure you that if nobody shows up to watch the vote counting in Chicago, the Democrats will rig the vote.

I moved to Chicago around 11/1/1982, and was immediately fascinated by the vote-counting hi-jinks in the gubernatorial election a few days later:

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire: 100,000 Stolen Votes in Chicago
By Hans A. von Spakovsky

Where Chairman Mao believed that all power comes from the barrel of the gun, the late Mayor Richard J. Daley believed that all power comes from the barrel into which precinct totals have been tossed.
-David Nyhan, The Boston Globe, December 16, 1982

The "Truth About Voter Fraud," according to activ­ist groups like the Brennan Center, is that "many of the claims of voter fraud amount to a great deal of smoke without much fire…. The allegations simply do not pan out."[1]

Chicago, however, is known for its fires, and there was a roaring one there in 1982 that resulted in one of the largest voter fraud prosecutions ever conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice. The telltale smoke arose out of one of the closest governor's races in Illi­nois history; and as for the fire, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago at the time, Daniel Webb, estimated that at least 100,000 fraudulent votes (10 percent of all votes in the city) had been cast.[2] Sixty-five individuals were indicted for federal election crimes, and all but two (one found incompetent to stand trial and another who died) were convicted. [3]


Note that the Republicans eventually won the 1982 Illinois gubernatorial election when a cache of uncounted votes was conveniently discovered in the then-GOP stronghold of Dupage county a few days after the election.

"Where Chairman Mao believed that all power comes from the barrel of the gun, the late Mayor Richard J. Daley believed that all power comes from the barrel into which precinct totals have been tossed."

To be fair, Stalin is sometimes said to have said that those who cast the votes decide nothing, those who count the votes devide everything.

If electronic voting machines can be hacked, this is the election in which we'll find out. Russians are the best hackers, these days.

If voting machines have an audit trail, all hacks can be detected.

Here's the way they did it in my precinct: When introduced the votes were purely electronic. They went to a database and who knows what happened. That was obviously risky, so they had them all retrofitted. Now you vote the same way, but a paper roll records votes. You review the paper and say ok. The votes are sent electronically, but the paper roll is retained. To check results you just put the roll on another machine, OCR it, and confirm that paper results match sent results.

That's not the only, or maybe even the best, way to do it, but it works. Every vote is eye checked by the voter, and can be OCR checked by the auditor.

If the audit trail is rigged by the machine that makes it, then a lot of good that will do. And if the election will be rigged by the Russians to favor you, good idea to make the accusation that it's rigged before the real victim can make the same accusation against you.

Did you understand what I just wrote?

If you as voter see and confirm your written paper tape, how can the machine be rigged after that? Some Mission Impossible mechanism that substitutes another might work for one machine, but not thousands across a state.

Lots of ways to hack electronic voting machines. For example, if you're viewing the actual paper audit trail when you vote, just show the same thing when two consecutive voters vote for the same disfavored candidate. I'm sure clever guys like these can figure a few other methods.


1. 1982 was over 30 years ago. Should we not keep our money in the bank because Baby Face Nelson was robbing them in the early 1900's?

2. Clearly the vote fraud in the 1982 Chicago election was a case of the old school meeting new technology. It is absurdly easy to take a list of voters in the previous election and check them against a list of those that died. It was not so easy before you had cheap computers and digitizing data was the norm. While other types of vote fraud, like hacking all digital voting machines, may be possible today what Steve is describing here is old news.


yes, it's surprising how TC completely ignores outright fraud & criminality in his ivory tower definitions of 'rigged' elections.
Effective Poll-Watchers are critical to honest elections, but absent or abused in most U.S. elections.

Very simple methods of deliberate 'miscounts' of cast ballots, 'lost' ballots, ballot box stuffing, etc. -- work extremely well at the local level where political operatives are officially entrenched in the nitty-gritty government mechanism of actual voting.

Direct balloting fraud is commonplace in America, For example, hundreds of thousands of valid ballots were somehow 'lost' in the 2012 New York City election. When later discovered, the NYC Board of Elections did nothing about it-- nobody was fired or indicted, nothing changed, and no big deal ... business as usual continues for future "voting" . If that happens in big modern cities like New York, imagine what happens in rural areas of the U.S. where there is little or no direct supervision of balloting.

The people who vote decide nothing-- the people who count the vote decide everything.

"The people who vote decide nothing– the people who count the vote decide everything."

And some times as in 2000, the people who judge those who judge those who count decide everything.

Steve, do you seriously think Illinois, much less Chicago, is even seriously in play for Trump?

The states to watch the counting in are Florida, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The rest of the states are either already a foregone conclusion or too small to matter much.

This might be why the Republican party loses elections. They think they will lose the election because of voter fraud will tip Chicago to the Democrats.

BTW, is this election an audit of the "Steve Sailer Strategy" for all of us? Once the Steve Sailer approved Trump is tronounced in November, will we still keep hearing about the Steve Sailer strategy will win next time around?

No. He is saying that Democrats and the left generally have been saying the voting system is rigged for years. Now Trump says it and they get their panties in a twist.

Well, Gore never said the election was rigged. That seems like a critical difference.

your " my Tweeter feed " is the ultimate strawman, and is very close to the "a lot of people have been saying" line of justification that seems in vogue this season

So people aren't furious over what Trump said?

It's really starting to get annoying how people are throwing the "straw man" accusation around, apparently without a clue as to its meaning.

I'd not even heard of it until I read this post. But I guess Prof. Cowen and I don't have the same twitter feeds.

I think there is a back story to this post. I wish TC would (if I read correctly) give us his Twitter feed that caused an uproar. As for rigged elections, I propose more transparency, as in candidates allowed to directly buy votes, as they do in the Philippines where I live with my hot gf half my age. The going rate is between $2 to $22 a vote, depending on the office in question (neighborhood mayor aka "barangay captain" only goes for about 100 pesos or $2 a vote).

I worked for the Kerry Campaign in 2004. We had a talk on voter suppression: they didn't worry about voters being turned away, they taught us procedures to quickly get contested voters out of line to keep lines moving for others. We were taught that the biggest issue was delays in areas with already long waits for voting (you can easily google this) can basically make people leave the line further back without voting.

Now, this isn't 'rigging' in the sense Mr. Cowen used, and due to the politicised nature of US politics and this site, I doubt many will have much sympathy, or will attack my veracity, but that is the form of voter concerns we were asked to be most salient of.

Here is a question for Mr Cowen, which I hope he addresses. If there is an uneven amount of voting machines on election days in different places, leading to vastly disparate wait times to cast your vote, (or more likely the same # of machines for vastly different amounts of people) would you classify that as 'rigging' an election? If not, what would that be classified as?

that sounds like rigging to me

Kerry campaign? Most likely a how-to course they gave you.

I'd also like to know if requiring and ID issued from a DMV and then closing the DMV's where all your political opponents live is considered rigging.

yes that is rigging. Again, I am not a democrat

It's only "rigging" if it's purposeful. My first assumption would be incompetence. (Admittedly the end result would be the same.)

Does just not caring about certain population centers count as purposeful? Gets kind of murky there.

Is it possible to determine with an unerring accuracy precisely how many voters will turn out, in what precints? And whose responsibility is it to allocate those voting machines? I imagine it's generally fairly low-level bureaucrats. (Also, ask yourself - imagine a random, run-of-the-line, functionary working for a major city's voting department. Is that person more likely to be an R or a D?)

I'm surprised the 2000 election doesn't get its own number (or even the 2004 one).

In deed.... Thats the most obvious example.

If Trump wins the popular vote, it might be relevant point of comparison. Gore also conceded the election after a few court challenges and encouraged his supporters to accept the results. He didn't get up three months before a vote had been cast and start with this nonsense.

AFAIK, the only legitimate reason for thinking the wrong person was sworn in in 2001 is the poorly designed "butterfly" ballot, and that's nonpartisan incompetence, not "rigging" in any meaningful sense.

There is a huge false equivalence going around among some "moderates," "centrists" and "independents" that a handful of screaming leftists on twitter should be treated with the same scrutiny as the frigging leader of the second largest political party in the nation. It's outrageous.

I'm not aware of inter-profile and intra-profile versions of Gibbard-Satterthwaite -- those words can only describe axioms, not impossibility theorems! For example, manipulability/strategy-proofness is an inter-profile condition, whereas Pareto-efficiency is an intra-profile condition.

Also, manipulability in the social choice sense is arguably a rather different phenomenon from "rigged" elections. Here is an example of manipulability of the US elections: suppose your true preferences are Johnson > Trump > Clinton, and you vote in a state where the votes of the other people are such that Trump and Clinton get *exactly* the same number of votes (with Johnson not getting any votes) and you somehow know this before casting your vote. Then you are better off to "manipulate" and vote in favour of Trump, rather than voting for your true first choice, Johnson. This is the kind of manipulation that social choice is concerned with.

There's a difference between 1) having a system in which the preferences of the voters are fairly and transparently translated into elected officials and policy, and 2) following the rules of the system we do have and having both parties respect the decision. Or, it it possible to have electoral legitimacy without having much democratic legitimacy. So, Obama can say that Citizen's United is fundamentally undermining our democracy (case 1), whereas Al Gore accepts the Supreme Court decision without fuss (case 2). The difference, it seems to me, is that the remedy to case 1 is voting in better politicians, overcoming bias in election rules through better organizing, where the remedy to case seems likely to be extra legal action and political violence. Given Trump's past with "I think you'll have riots" in the primaries, fears about political violence and disrespect for the outcome of an election coming from the de facto leader of one of the two parties seems well-founded.

Tyler's post equivocates between two meanings of "rigged". Trump is heavily implying the 'stuffing the boxes' electoral fraud sort of rigging that we've seen in other countries. Questioning the legitimacy of the electoral process is different from saying "the system is stacked against X".

Also, there's strong evidence behind claims of voter suppression, and the charge is serious. Trump is spouting off with nothing behind his claims, as usual.
There's a difference between arguing for reforming the fire code and shouting fire in a crowded theater.

Didn't Trump just days prior claim the DNC emails revealed the system was "rigged" against Sanders? Maybe that's what he's getting it. It's a pre-emptive charge of rigged based on general cynicism regarding the entire process.

'Trump himself now being Exhibit A on the other side of the issue'

Trump has not lost yet - I would consider Perot to be Exhibit A.

'That wouldn’t quite count as “rigging”'

They did things differently where you grew up in NJ, didn't they? In Virginia, of course it was intended to more than merely slant an election, it was explicitly meant to ensure that black citizens could not vote.

'The American electoral system is designed to give the two major parties a huge initial advantage.'

As any libertarian is fully aware of, of course.

'That we rigged.'

No, that you sold to what was likely the highest bidder.

This web site was much more amusing when obsessed with Piketty.


Parties manipulate results by gerrymandering and by keeping people they don't like off the electoral rolls.
They rig elections by subcontracting the count to software vendors.

And indeed house control is arguably practically determined by the gerrymanders, making 2010 a Repub House decade: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/11/republicans-gerrymandering-house-representatives-election-chart

…although I suppose one could argue that if people elect the legislature this has a democratic quality to it.

Trump is very good at one thing: changing the story for a day or so. Voter fraud is not a problem in the United States. Yet even a website like this will take time to give the "rigged" claims, in early August no less, an airing. This takes up space and time that might otherwise be devoted to pointing out that prominent conservatives and elected Republicans are publicly uncoupling themselves from their party's nominee at a never before seen level. Yet another Senator detailing the reasons she cannot even vote for Trump yesterday (what is that, 5 already?). The Republican party didn't even bother to show up to a large degree at its own national convention.

"Voter fraud is not a problem in the United States." This is often asserted, but I don't find it to be demonstrated so well.

This claim is based on the lack of evidence for voter fraud; however, what sort of evidence would one expect to see when most places have no real validation of voter identities in place? The most obvious forms of fraud would be an individual voting under the wrong name, or an individual voting in a jurisdiction they don't live. And in most places there is absolutely no system in place to detect either. Also there are demonstrably major problems with voter registration that would enable such fraud. Millions upon millions of ineligible voters remain on the rolls after they move, die, etc. That can be seen in easily available evidence. Having lived and voted in several states, I'm sure I could cast more than one vote in the election if I wanted to, without any special effort or any real fear of consequences.

I'm not saying that a large fraud problem definitely does exist. But I don't see the basis for definitively proclaiming there is no problem.

Alien abduction followed by cyborg replacement is not a problem in the United States.

How silly.

The recent opinions in federal courts concerning voter ID laws have been very clear that the lack of any credible evidence of actual voter fraud to back these laws is the problem - it is not the lack of evidence that voter fraud is happening, but the assertion that voter fraud is occurring on a scale that requires a state's legislature to request specific information about how different groups vote, then remove such forms of voting is clearly an action looking for any reason but the true one to justify itself. Early voting is not a source of voter fraud, for example.

Voter fraud clearly occurs at least occasionally, and there is evidence of occasional cases; it's the rate of fraud that is in question. Comparing it to alien abduction is silly.

I've explained why I don't think the lack of evidence is a compelling reason to conclude that hardly any fraud exists. Feel free to respond to those specific points.

"The recent opinions in federal courts concerning voter ID laws have been very clear that the lack of any credible" precautions against voter fraud. The only real reason for wishing not to show an ID to vote is you wish to commit voter fraud.

Weak security (cyber, mainly) is already a huge theme of this election, and if easily penetrated voting systems or easily manipulated voting processes are "breached" in November, or even rumored to be breached, it sets up the "heir" to Trump nicely for 2020. Somehow I don't think his heir is going to be more palatable than the original.

If it doesn't matter who wins the election voter fraud is not a problem. But why should space be devoted to "party" defections when an individual is running for an office? Parties aren't mentioned in the Constitution. Votes are cast for individuals.

Because unlike Perot say , he isn't running as an individual but as nominee of a party.

My point abour Perot was in regards to this assertion - 'Numerous arguments insist that money buys elections....' Perot was a billionaire able to spend as much as he felt necessary to try to win, just as Trump can, if so inclined. Such as forgiving loans from himself to his campaign on the order of something approaching 50 million dollars.

Any business school marketing professor knows that if you want to unseat an incumbent brand, you have to spend far, far more than the incumbent. Which is why most companies try to define new niches rather than go after #1.

Ah for Nov 9th , when like in Bridge, No Trump trumps Trumps.

"Republicans are publicly uncoupling themselves from their party’s nominee at a never before seen level" ...well if the elections are rigged anyway it really does not matter IMO

Assumes massive conspiracy theories not in evidence


So in other words, Trump is wrong about rigged elections, but it's someone else's fault?

Please tell me these vaguely pro-Trump numbered posts are an attempt to organize your own thinking on the subject rather than attempts to influence ours.

He is not wrong... 2000....

Were they arguing that the 2000 elections were "rigged" or were they arguing that the 2000 election was "stolen." Is there a qualitative difference between "rigged" and "stolen?" Should there be?

Presidential elections that come down to a few thousand votes in a few key States provide plenty of opportunities for rigging. Kennedy/Nixon was rigged. Bush/Gore ended up turning on the decision of a single pro-Bush electoral official in Florida. "Stolen!," screamed the Democrats. Currently, an ex-CIA bureaucrat is being paid to get on the ballot in a few Mormon States for the sole purpose of throwing the Electoral College to Hillary.

The wealthiest, most influential people on the planet are anti-Trump. The notion that ARE DUMOCRACY is sacrosanct and above the fray is conceited.

Throwing the Electoral College to Hillary or throwing it to the House of Representatives. The talk yesterday seemed to be more about throwing it to the House of Representatives

That would assume that McMullin can actually pick up electoral votes of his own, not throw them to Hillary. I have trouble seeing how that would be the case. . .

Re: Kennedy/Nixon was rigged.

Evidence please!

Re: Bush/Gore ended up turning on the decision of a single pro-Bush electoral official in Florida.

Um, no. Bush vs Gore was determined by the actions of the Supreme Court. I think it was a bad decision (the Court should not have waded into that swamp), but it was done publicly and legally-- no "rigging" as the term is generally meant.

Re: Currently, an ex-CIA bureaucrat is being paid to get on the ballot in a few Mormon States for the sole purpose of throwing the Electoral College to Hillary.

There is nothing illegal about that guy running for president. Do you have any evidence that someone is paying him? And please do note that the polls have been running strongly pro-Hillary since before that guy showed up.

(the Court should not have waded into that swamp), but it was done publicly and legally– no “rigging” as the term is generally meant.

I'm sure swearing in Denny Hastert as acting president while appellate and trial judges in Florida pissed on each other would have been much an improvement.

The House would have decided the race-- almost certainly for Bush.

I assume he is not financing a Presidential campaign based on the junior analyst's salary he got from Goldman Sachs a couple of years ago.

Kennedy/Nixon was rigged.

Kennedy had ample margins in the electoral college and did not need Illinois' electoral votes.

If an idiot says something stupid that is anti-Trump, it's not "vaguely pro-Trump" to correct it.

The world is not black and white.

Think of it as a Rovian ploy. The real threat to the election is Trump's Russian friends. He is engaged in distracting everybunny. Classic squirrel

Calling the election is rigged doesn't undermine the confidence in the democratic process too much. You would expect the loser to do that half of the time. But if a major candidate refuse to concede in the end the legitimacy of the next government is called into question. That DOES undermine the confidence.

Actually the losers of elections in the U.S. hardly ever claim the election was rigged. If they were doing it half the time, that would probably seriously undermine the public's belief in the legitimacy of elections.

I actually desire to undermine public faith in elections...they seem rigged

Given the nature if the list, that it is trying to list all the different theories of 'rigged' elections, it seems an obvious missed item is the counter point/pre-requiste to #3. If you are going to include "Numerous arguments that Republican-backed voter registration requirements..." shouldn't you include the reason, or at least the reason they publicly claimed, those laws were passed?

I have no idea what the point of this post is.

Maybe to say that "rigged" is a sort of ambiguous term? I think Trump meant it fairly simply - that illegal means were going to be used to assure that the final count favored Clinton.

the point of the post is to seem clever by playing devil's advocate. Trump's not *totally* wrong, YOU are the one suffering from mood affiliation!

The point of this post, and at least one before, is to point out that most Trump critics have giant wood beams wedged into both their eye sockets.

This. Trump being wrong doesn't mean his critics are right.

See the people who think Trump's wall is unaffordable yet replacing all lead pipes in the country, which has about the same cost, can be easily paid for.

Replacing all lead pipes nationwide is looking cheap relative to comparator projects.

I think there is a difference between rigging an election, and having a system rigged against certain outcomes, although the difference is not necessarily very clear. Rigging and election is, usually, illegal. I would rather think of ballot stuffing, running fake candidates with confusing names, etc. A rigged system is something else, it makes me think of media supporting certain candidates, powerful lobbies having an undemocratic influence on politicians, or an electoral system which prevents outsiders from entereing the political arena, such as a first past the post system. Trump alluded to the first, which I think is complete nonsense given te USA' democratic tradition. The latter may be very much true in the USA, and may hurt the trust of the public in democracy, but it does not prevent people from voting differently, and FPTP systems do not necessarily suffer from a lack of legitimacy. So maybe Trump supporters will believe the elections were rigged because there are systemic biases in the system against certain policies, which has led to increasing inequality in the USA, but actual electoral fraud wont occur. Moreover, it is nonsense that the political-economic system is rigged against Trump, so far it has favoured him his whole life...

"faith in democracy." Interesting choice of words.

I used to have a lot of faith in the rule of law. Less now, but hope springs eternal.

Those who go on about the importance of "faith on democracy", however, have had a surprising reaction to the 10 million+ Trump voters, as well as the Brexit crowd.

More like "faith in democracy*"

* Application restricted to approved choices.

I used to have a lot of faith in the rule of law.

Me too. Then I realized Robert Mugabe wasn't in his office rubbing his hands together and cackling, "I REJECT your Lockean precepts thusly!" No, he's following the law that says you reward your friends and punish your enemies. There's no rule of law, only the law of those who rule. Or as Prof. Paul Campos said a couple of decades ago, in the end, "we are all we have."

This is essentially "Palin put bullseyes on congressional targets" v 4.0

but there is a real thing underneath this: that trump might not concede gracefully, which could create problems. This is a man in march who threatened to incite riots in cleveland if he lost the GOP nominaiton and who made similarish statements after romneys 2012 loss. that would be abnormal

Points 1 and 6 are straw men.

It seems like all this talk is taking Trump's statements completely out of context:

"I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest,” Trump said at the rally. He repeated the riff Monday night at a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and again Tuesday morning onstage in Ashburn, Virginia. "We gotta beat a totally dishonest machine," he said, pointing to the lack of federal charges against Hillary Clinton after the FBI investigation into her use of a private email server as another data point buttressing his broader case. "It’s a disgrace to our country that she got away with it. It's a crooked system. We're running against a rigged system, and we're running against a dishonest media

It’s also language he’s appropriating from one of his fiercest critics, Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator "

He's specifically drawing attention to the questionable FBI decision regarding Clinton's email server and the Media hatred of Trump as evidenced by yesterdays editorial.

"Bernie Sanders declared that the Democratic presidential-nominating process was rigged in May. At the 2012 Democratic convention. Elizabeth Warren declared: “People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here’s the painful part: They’re right.”"


Meh, too much bolding. Sorry, that was my fault.

I'm not sure I see the "out of context" problem.

Sure, he said some other stuff. But I see nothing that implies that "I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged" means something different than what is being discussed here.

He is saying the system is rigged in favor of my opponent. The media is cheerleading and the government gave her a white wash in obviously criminal behavior.

He is not saying the system is rigged, the Democrats are going to change the vote results.


The Simpsons already said that the election was "rigged" and that evil Republicans had used hacked voting machines to change votes.

Wouldn't abolishing the Electoral college( where 38 States' results matter little compared to the other 12) reduce the chance of a presidential election being rigged?

Currently there's less incentive to run the count up in the 38 states that are likely locked and therefore election watchers can concentrate their eyes on the 12 states where it's more likely to matter. Just implementing a straight forward vote for President mechanic would likely lead to more ballot stuffing.

Also, of course, you are talking about pulling down a key stone of American Constitutional democracy. At a minimum you'll need a Constitutional amendment and this will require 39 states to vote for it.

So Trump is right, after all ...

> Numerous arguments that Republican-backed voter registration requirements are keeping significant numbers of voters, most of all minority voters, away from the polls.

Its funny how the left never admits regulations suppress market activity until that marketing is either voting or abortions.

> Or that today most Americans want some form of tougher gun control, but that the system is rigged against that outcome happening?

The way the media has been pushing gun control only very late in Obama's term, inventing terms like "active shooter", using it very liberally in the US, trying to fit acts of terror into the gun control narrative then ignoring terrorism overseas in places with strict gun control laws. Statistically equivocating gang shootings with school shootings (both technically mass shootings if over four people) to make it seem like the crazed gunman phenomenon is bigger than it is. Focusing coverage on "assault weapons" even though about 1% of all gun fatalities are caused by them. (Obama even admitted this on national TV before Sandy Hook.) Using the term "gun-show loophole" even though no such thing exists, (I'll take you to the next gun show at the Dulles expo center if you don't believe me.)

The media coverage feels pretty damn rigged. It was not an issue before the media manufactured consent.

It's amazing the amount of verbiage you deploy without making reference to any salient issue:

1. The promiscuous use of postal ballots.

2. The pointless (and potentially harmful) introduction of information technology.

3. The madcap (and suspicious) complaints by partisan Democrats re showing an identification form at the polling place.

4. Haphazard electoral calendars

5. The persistent use of first-past-the-post when there are alternatives.

6. Gerrymandering, a problem which our idiot court system has managed to exacerbate in the last 50-odd years.

'The promiscuous use of postal ballots.'

Like in Oregon? 'Vote-by-mail in Oregon has maintained a high level of support since it was passed in 1998. A survey done in 2003 by Dr. Priscilla Southwell, a professor of Political Science at University of Oregon, shows that 81% of respondents favored the vote-by-mail system. 19% favored voting at the polls. The poll also shows high favorability among both registered Democrats (85%) and Republicans (76%). 30% of respondents said they voted more often since vote-by-mail was enacted.' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vote-by-mail_in_Oregon

From a certain perspective, the real problem with vote by mail is the increased number of voters. So many of the tricks used by North Carolina to ensure a lower number of specific voters, to use one recently decided and well documented federal court case, are simply not possible to employ using Oregon's system.

Convenience is great, but the point of voting is to accurately determine the electorates will.

The act of voting is an information exchange, and is subject to the AIC triangle (Availability, Integrity, Confidentiality). In person voting tends to have availability issues: long lines, transportation to and from polling station, confusion about which polling station. However mail in voting has integrity issues: is this ballot coming from the person it says it is? These people were able to obtain mail in ballots for several politicians as well as the rapper Eminem: http://projectveritas.com/l/Eminem.html

You are right, people are happy with mail in voting, but convenience/enjoyment is not a rebuttal, it's beside the point especially if it invites fraud.

You can address most of the 'availability' issues by moving elections from Tuesday (a mid-19th century market day) to Saturday. About 3/4 of the population lives in cities, tract-suburbs, and small towns where polling stations are within walking distance (or, in suburbs with most intense segregation of land use) within a 3 minute drive. At least in New York, the locus of voting is pretty much the same every year. Voting today w/o postal ballots is far more convenient in New York than it was in 1959, when you had to register in person every year at the town clerk or board of elections.

Good ideas, I think the public holiday voting scheme would also backfire on those who want it, because working people who pay taxes might vote more. The problem that remains is local incompetence, places that have 3+ hour long waits etc...

> Voting today w/o postal ballots is far more convenient in New York than it was in 1959, when you had to register in person every year at the town clerk or board of elections.

I would consider something like that worth it. Also if ex-patriots could show up at the embassy to verify their identity for their ballots.

Athenian democracy was in a sense a desperate experiment in response to the constant civil wars being fought between factions of various tyrants. A cornerstone to the foundation of that democracy was the ostracism where every ten years there was a vote to banish the politician deemed most likely to establish another tyranny. Given the high negatives in the voter polls Trump would probably 'win' such a vote today, though I'm not sure. Perhaps just the elimination of the politician with the highest negatives stabilizes a democracy. Was it Oswald Spengler, or perhaps Toynbee, who said democracies have a typical lifespan of around 250 years? Perhaps it's because they lose the sense they're just a short step away from a civil war between authoritarian outcomes. The political battles in democracies have always been more rough-and-tumble than seen by the public. (A excellent book to read in this context is Robert Strauss's The Whole Damn Deal..) Nixon's plumbers violated the shared sense of political norms among the elites a little, but what really got Congress enraged was when they learned he had made plans (and probably implemented some) to use the IRS against ~them~. HRC understands all this, deeply, through hard experience. Trump, even with his background in New York politics and negotiating favorable zoning law changes is only just now learning. (Nearly totally ignorant of national history and politics, maybe he should've chosen Gingrich so at least he'd have some on his team.) People tend to over-talk about what they've just learned - a common political mistake. And yes, it's important to hide most of the political battles from the masses so as to not undermine their sense of shared community at the national level. But that has been largely eroding anyway. And a failure to at least sometimes acknowledge the rough nature of politics leads to victories for those who play the dirtiest.

Or he could have simply meant hacked. It's not a new concern, it's something that's been brought up time and time again ever since the first electronic vote machines were rolled out and it was obvious they completely lacked any kind of security. Most of them, rather, seem designed to facilitate the ability of a few insiders to control the results. The number of systems in-use that have no real auditing ability is stunning. Even the old saw about sufficiently advanced incompetence being indistinguishable from malice doesn't seem an adequate explanation.

Check out Black Box Voting for a long history around this issue, or Politico's recent "How to Hack an Election in 7 Minutes" for a single story with details.

"Personally, I think median voters more or less get what they want on a large number of issues, especially broad-based ones in the public eye. "

I disagree. At least concerning federal policy outcomes in the United States. First, institutional rules -- namely, the filibuster and the presidential veto -- often work against the floor median. So even though a large majority in Congress, and by extension a large majority of voters, wants something, a handful of actors can work to block change. The gridlock in Washington is often problematic because the median voters are not getting what they want.

Second, these institutional rules distort what policy alternatives will survive the legislative process. Typically, the filibuster pivot must be satisfied. The proverbial 60th vote. By definition that means the median is not getting what it wants. A nonmedian actor is. Also, there's research that shows the rising partisanship in Washington has led to outcomes that satisfy the majority party median, not the chamber median.

You might remember that Obama won some counties with 100% of the vote, something which experts have declared to be statistically impossible. He won other counties with 130% of the vote which was not only embarrassing to the Democrats who fixed the election but quite enlightening for those who think elections aren't rigged.
In this presidential election the winner will be determined by five swing states and within those five swing states by one or maybe two large cities (for example in Florida more people vote in Miami than the rest of the state). For over a year the various Democrat operatives (ACORN, unions, local communist parties, etc.) have been busily working in these critical cities to register dead people, homeless and drunks, illegal aliens, etc. On election day teams will fan out through the city in 12 passenger vans and mini-vans to enlist the homeless and drunks to vote. But this isn't your ordinary get out the vote effort, nooooooo! Each of these willing participants in voter fraud will be driven to a dozen or so polling places and given the name of a voter to use to cast their ballot for Hillary. Imagine dozens of vans each picking up 6-10 drunks/homeless each driving to a dozen polling places and repeating the process from 8 AM to 8 PM. Each of the drunks/homeless will be rewarded with $50 (the going price for their crime) and released near a liquor store. This is the tried and true way Democrats have stolen close elections for 100 years. Newer methods involve electronic voting machines but the old technique of simply losing ballots from heavy Republican districts is an old technique too.

Most people involved in elections know this, many participate. I have often wondered why some investigative reporter doesn't get this on video and expose this age old tradition of American politics. I suspect it is either because most in the MSM are Democrats and applaud it or because they fear for their lives if they are caught.

Why isn't there live streaming of polling places in order to deter double-voting?

You can't even verify who they are, how's live streaming going to fly?

Examples of such counties include...

Districts, not counties. Obama won 100% of the vote in predominantly black neighborhoods that have less than 1% registered Republicans.

What % of the vote would you expect Romney to get in a district that is <1% Republican, predominantly black, while he is running against a Democrat incumbent that happens to be the first black President?

In every other presidential election Republican candidates did get votes. The ONLY way it could go 100% for one party is the machine was fixed or the count was fixed or both. It seems odd and sad to try to justify and rationalize this.

+1 Tyler, for totally trolling the alt-right

You've demonstrated the point nicely. There are many valid critiques of our election process, which is what's dangerous about a candidate running around predicting that things will be rigged against them. There's a kernel of truth to hang the lie on.

"I’m not sure what exactly he meant by [rigged]...?"

What? You know exactly what Trump means - there will be explicit tampering of the kind that cannot be overcome by participating within the normal democratic processes, like vote switching or repeated, in person voting done by Democrats.

You're trying to conflate this literal use of "rigging" with the figurative use indicating that the existing structure of American politics favors certain outcomes or interest groups. They're fundamentally different things, and distinction is important. Far more extreme reactions are justifiable in response to the former case than the latter.

You know this, because it is obvious and you are not an idiot. Why are you being so weirdly disingenuous?

I think Tyler likes to look for tangential truths sometimes, but those tangential truths are not always the big truths standing in the middle of the room.

Big truths:

Trump isn't just appealing to an old man watch Fox News, he is that old man. This is appealing to a very narrow group. The electoral college results will be a disaster. But like all those old men who hold flipped beliefs of every Fact Check, he will never understand what just happened.

Tangential truths won't convince them. See above. They are too busy denying Fact Checks.

Related: https://mobile.twitter.com/karangoel/status/763027849762574336

Even worse than I believed:


And .. worse again:


Seriously Tyler, don't do a tangential defense of something that is very, very, bad on its own.

By the technical definition of "rigged", and applying TC's examples, Trump is not incorrect:

verb: rig; 3rd person present: rigs; past tense: rigged; past participle: rigged; gerund or present participle: rigging
manage or conduct (something) fraudulently so as to produce a result or situation that is advantageous to a particular person.
"the results of the elections had been rigged"
synonyms: manipulate, engineer, distort, misrepresent, pervert, tamper with, doctor; More
cause an artificial rise or fall in prices in (a market, especially the stock market) with a view to personal profit.
"he accused games manufacturers of rigging the market

The biggest form of rigging is the senate filibuster. Strangely, the left has gone silent on that topic, though no doubt we'll here more about it soon.

Guys rigged because the media is all against him. Without good coverage he loses. Easy. Think

The left blazed a trail and Trump is driving full speed down it in the most comically facile way possible. Trump condensed several decades of leftist critiques into a sentence and is using it to smash the left's candidate, after doing the same thing to the right.

'and is using it to smash the left’s candidate'

Sanders is not running against Trump.

Isn't the issue that the candidates haven't historically been the ones making the claim of elections being rigged?. Gore didn't say the 2000 election was rigged when he lost even though many on the left did. That's an important distinction.

Many a good point made, but I wonder if your argument is somewhat inconsistent itself. I see why you believe a hypocrisy exists, and I'm sure it does among many, but what of the leaders themselves? Yes, perhaps in 2000 when I was 16 I thought Bush v. Gore was the result of a "rigged" or unfair system, but Gore did not. In fact he gave a very gracious concession speech to the contrary. Now compare his behavior to that of Trump. Further, as I have evolved, so has my opinions. For instance, I think Voter ID Law is not the result of a "rigged" system, but an unnecessary burden on the right to vote. Comparing reactions now to those of 16 yrs ago allows little room for a society to grow and mature. Now I wonder, have you laid any blame for Trump's nomination and what he says at his own feet or at the feet of Republican voters? Have you considered how similarly strong rhetoric from the right led to the success of Bernie Sanders and a more left-leaning Democrat platform? I think your cries of "BUT YOU'RE BEING SO INCONSISTENT" would be more persuasive if you were willing to consider your own inconsistencies and biases, and call them out as well as those of others.

In fact he gave a very gracious concession speech to the contrary.

In the world outside your head, Gore engaged in six weeks of litigation, the Florida Supreme Court re-wrote provisions of the election law to his benefit, his attorneys attempted to claim that there should be repeated recounts - but only in counties where he might benefit, a Democratic official in South Florida was found with a voting machine in the back of his car (hmmm, where did all those over-votes in Palm Beach County come from?), and the Democratic Party's alinskyite squads kept up a steady stream of vituperation (with the participation of the head-ambulance-chaser himself, Jesse Jetstream).

but an unnecessary burden on the right to vote

Is it an unnecessary burden when I have to sign the voter register? An unnecessary burden when I have to haul my ass to the local high school?

Context matters. I perk up more when billionaires complain about the system being rigged against them. It sounds more like a pre-excuse for his inability to gain party support when Trump says it.

Dump trucks full of verbiage have been hauled out in regard to doping in athletics, particularly among Olympic competitors. A matter so inconsequential as pharmaceutical aids to athletic performance is a major topic of discussion, investigation and punishment but the odd complaint about obviously dishonest elections, the very basis of a supposedly free society, is dismissed as partisan paranoia. Oh, well.

The Olympic committee got evidence before they drew conclusions which led to action. Evidence first. Action later.

To be fair, there really are restrictions in some states on voting that have been enacted by GOP legislatures. Whether or not it's histrionic to call that "rigging" we can debate. However when Trump and his people talk about election-rigging they A) mean something illegal and nefarious which they can't really specify and B) have not one scintilla of evidence to back them up.

OK, I'll bite.

There's a difference between alleging that a specific aspect of our electoral system is problematic, and that certain groups have a disproportionate impact on election outcomes, compared to alleging that "the system is rigged" without mentioning specifics. The former allows people to advocate and debate solutions; the latter just makes people cynical and detracts from the political process. So, you might argue that certain rules are undemocratic or undermine legitimacy. For example, as our primary system is set up, Iowa and New Hampshire disproportionately influence the nomination process by their early caucus/primaries, or that caucuses are undemocratic because the most dedicated primary voters exert disproportionate influence on the outcome (maybe that's a feature in your mind). Or you might say that the electoral college is undemocratic because states like California and Texas (large states whose populations are very Democratic or Republican and thus not likely to alter the electoral college) exert a very small influence on the electoral college outcome, while battleground states which might tip a close election exert disproportionate influence. Or you can point to cases where the electoral college vote did not reflect the popular vote. But those rules are known, spelled out, and one can devise an electoral strategy in the context of the rules.

On the flip side, saying, "the election is rigged" suggests some shadowy forces that would subvert the results as obtained within the context of the rules as they exist. It undermines the legitimacy of the entire electoral process. To the extent that it undermines the legitimacy of the winner of the election (again, within the rules as outlines), it is problematic.

It's about the media No more. You are wrong

Talking about "the media" like it is some sort of homogenous entity that "rigs" the election with its thumb on the scale is ridiculous. It would be more helpful to talk about specifics. Which entities are biased. How? What should they have said or written differently? For every source that is writing sympathetic fluff pieces about Clinton while ignoring her scandals, there's a conservative outlet that is parroting Trump's talking points. "The media" is diverse, includes a spectrum of viewpoints and a diversity of types, including not just print, television, cable, talk radio, and online content, and even stuff like this very blog. Contra conspiracy theories, not all of it is left-wing whacko media.

Moreover, I would say that, on balance, Trump has benefited from "the media", which offered him a substantial amount of free publicity during the primaries. In fact, he continues to get a disproportionate share of coverage, though that's largely because he generates a disproportionate share of news (whether good or bad).

Man, i'm not going to spend Hours answering you.
Everyone understand what the media means, that's the press and tv major information channels. It is not that diverse, the fact that you have to mention conservative media de facto proves it.

Compare : today's Trump statement on the second amendement, media outrage. The crazy father of the Orlando shooter on tv, just behind Hillary in a meeting. Not much. The first is obviously a com' mustake but we see not much being turned a big thing, Feeding the narrative that makes trump's poll numbers fall, while the second is a massive organisational and com' mistake , but i see not much.

The media as a while including large parts of the conservative outlets is in tank for Clinton. It' s à fact. With bad coordinated media coverage Trump loses. The election is finished. He has lost. And It is, a rigged election.

2 bad things happened for Hillary today, but Trump could not profit because he blew himself up. He was doing his hours of free association thing, without campaign discipline, when he put himself in a sand trap.

Don't blame the media for filming an unforced error.

US election season brings out the most curious reasoning in some quarters ...

In the days where everybody watched the same nightly news in a choice of three television stations and read the same paper, that may have been true. But in case you haven't noticed, the media has changed. As conservatives love to remind us, the ratings of Fox News blow out the ratings of other cable news channels. And they love to remind us that nobody reads the paper any more. We live in a polarized society, where people chose the media that confirms their pre-existing biases, whether they are liberal or conservative, not the media that is going to change their minds.

We ll see who wins. You do not factor in the modérates and the undecided

In a proper US election the precinct-level voting goes a long way to at least detect fraud. Local party volunteers have lists of every registered voter, their voting history (when they voted, not how) and party ID. So with a small enough precinct of about 1,000 voters and a dozen years of election history it would be pretty easy to detect an anomaly after the election.

The first legitimately good post by Tyler Cowen in at least two months. The only thing showing he has an IQ of above 125.

Gerrymandering is a very close cousin to rigging Congressional elections. Competitive House races number in the low 10's and re-election in most cases is virtually guaranteed provided you are willing to raise money and toe the party line. Both parties support the practice and the donor class loves it, too.

Trump probably won't go here but he should.

1) Campaign finance doesn't "buy elections", it buys legislation one comma, suffix and entire paragraph at a time.

"Hey Johnny. Yeah, it's Bob. Remember? I'm the guy who usually drops about $50,000 a year to support your (appropriate word) politics. I hear they're negotiating something about industry X. I just hope you understand that local business and jobs might be at play, and there is some risk that clause C will pass without sub sub sub clase Cd13. Well I can tell you, there'll be dozens of families on the streets within months if that clause doesn't go through, and to be honest I wonder about the long-term viability of the entire operation if I stay in this jurisdiction."

That's not buying an election. But does Mr. Senator have 5 minutes of time for that conversation with an identical non-donor? Various other similar such channels conducive to corruption could be described by such simple examples.

There is a whole lot of false equivalency in this post.

* false equivalence

*ctrl-F "austria"*

*no hits*

Uh, what the hell? Is there really nobody here paying attention to what's happening in European countries?

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/01/austrian-presidential-election-result-overturned-and-must-be-held-again-hofer-van-der-bellen happened last month under circumstances not terribly dissimilar to what Trump will be facing in November.

Considering that most American's knowledge of Austria involves vague awareness that it's in Europe, and maybe ... something something Nazis in WWII, I don't think you should find that surprising.

Why would anyone assume the insipid doughnut eating beer-swilling chumps who think hockey is the world's greatest sport are any more knowledgeable about central Europe?

Watching Tyler's reaction to this on twitter has been pretty funny. Basically everyone (i.e. his liberal friends) is attacking him for "defending trump." Because of course pointing out progressive hypocrisy is defending and supporting Trump.

The real lesson Tyler should take from this is that everyone is extremely political, and they don't care about the substance of your ideas as much as they care about which side you're own. Which is why Tyler has to state in several tweets that he's not a Trump supporter. So what if he was, would that make his criticism less valid? Well yes, because then he's in the out-group.

When decades have passed and the furor of the times seems strange and foreign, it will be much easier to see how the influential members of society had to always pay lip service to the reigning ideology before they could make anything that looked like a critique.

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