If the recent midterms elections in the United States have taught Republicans anything, it is both the importance of systematically rigging elections and the difficulty of doing so. But there is a better system for rigging elections.
First, it is impossible to overstate how important it is to successfully rig elections if the Republican Party wants to have any political future. North Carolina is a perfect example of this; Republicans in North Carolina earned 50.4 percent of the total vote and Democrats earned 48.3 percent, but thanks to their masterful gerrymandering Republicans got 10 seats out of 13 and Democrats got only 3. So even though this year Republicans nationwide lost more than 40 seats in the House, this election could have been a lot more painful (or as President Trump would say, much more unfair).
Another crucial lesson is that systematically rigging American elections is really messy and it takes tremendous amount of effort. Take, for example, Georgia. Brian Kemp had to put tremendous effort there to make the election much more fair (to him) by creating long voting lines in districts where people were likely to vote for the wrong candidate and he had to come up with schemes like the “exact match” to put some 53,000 of voter registrations on hold, most of whom were black voters and thus were likely to jeopardize the election integrity by voting for Democrats. And despite such extensive efforts to make elections more fair Kemp won only after a tough recount and only by about fifty thousand votes. In other places with similarly disciplined attempts to rig an election, like in Kansas, Democrats still managed to win.
So rigging American elections requires a lot of hard work and even then it is not always reliable. Also, over a long-term many voters can be angered by such strategy and in protest they may want to vote for Democrats just to spite Republicans.
There must be a better way, an easier way. And there is. Iran, for one, can show a much more enlightened way to rig an election.
The Iranian Model
In Iran anyone is welcome to vote and in fact the government makes it very easy to do so. Many Republican strategists probably can’t imagine how fair elections are possible in such a scenario. And yet, Iran still manages to have very reliable elections (or as Republican politicians would say, Iran achieves very high election integrity).
So what’s the underlying model? It’s very simple: you don’t purge voters, you purge candidates.
In Iran, this important mission is performed by the Guardian Council. The Council supervises elections, and it has to approve candidates before they can run in an election.
The Guardian Council will naturally disqualify any candidates who are incompetent (such as candidates who don’t chant “Death to America” energetically enough or fulfill their other essential civic obligations).
Compared with the current Republican approach to enhancing election fairness, the Iranian approach requires minimal effort and it nearly always produces reliable results.
Vladimir Putin, a great leader skilled in the art of ensuring election integrity, essentially follows the Iranian approach of primarily focusing on candidates not voters. Although in his case it doesn’t work yet quite as smoothly as in Iran, he has generally managed to ensure very fair elections in Russia. (Or in the praising words of Donald Trump, Putin has “great control over his country“.)
Making American Elections Great Again
If President Trump and Republicans are serious about creating fair elections, this is the model they should work on. Perhaps they won’t call it the Guardian Council – the Freedom and Patriotism Council would poll better with their fanbase – but the underlying idea is the same.
Since Kris Kobach lost the governor’s race in Kansas and is in need of a job and has solid credentials in the field of election integrity, he would happily agree to help the president design and implement such a system.
With this, President Trump will finally be able to declare that he fixed the problem of voter fraud and from now on elections will be much more fair to him. The only downside to this approach is that it might demotivate crowds at Trump rallies: if all the bad candidates will be locked out of elections there will be no one worthy left to lock up!
Image: Mohamad Sadegh Heydari via Wikimedia Commons