Why elections fail

The legitimacy of a government depends on whether the voters believe that the election reflects their wishes. Failure can create civil unrest and violence. The rule of law suffers, and the government has difficulty running the country. Decline follows, exacerbating public disobedience. It is a pattern common to failed states.

An election is a complex exercise with an immutable deadline. Failure looms.

A government willing to subvert the election to be re-elected has a range of opportunity. This is particularly true when the Electoral Management Body (EMB) lacks independence. Politically motivated appointments of commissioners, particularly the chair, is particularly undesirable, and frequently leads to suspect elections.

Detailed planning is key to success. EMBs adopt the professional project planning tools necessary to manage their elections, but in an election, it is rare to meet a professional project planner giving guidance on getting the benefits from those tools.
Budgets are a constraint, and planning mistakes and missed deadlines force changes with costs. When the commission has ignored donor recommendations, the donors are disinclined to pay to fix the mistakes they anticipated. The negotiations about finance leads to further delay, and crises dominates operations. A failed election results.

Technology is a challenge. It is often portrayed as the solution. Software is not a substitute for the disciplines required to run an efficient election. The introduction of complex technological solutions frequently exacerbates existing problems, particularly when they are untried, and implemented under unrealistic timeframes.

At the core of the EMBs operations are the voter register and the result reporting systems. These data are confidential, and security is crucial. However, the biggest risk of fraud, as in commerce, is insider intrusion. Paradoxically, at EMBs, this is where the least controls are found. Manipulation of the results is becoming increasingly evident, and the international communities unwillingness to expose the fraud for fear of undermining the legitimacy of elections is reducing the urgency to address the problem.

Election observation missions have the potential to mitigate the risk, but that will not happen until they introduce systematic controls in their reporting that ensures the election fraud is detected, quantified, and exposed in real time.

Many developing countries do not have a formal address system. Allocation of voters to polling stations is dependent on locating the polling stations close to where the voters live. Voters are disenfranchised when they do not know where they are listed to vote.

When election results are contested, the Dispute Resolution Body must be respected, and should announce judgement within a strict timeframe.
Identification of voters is a challenge that continues to undermine the credibility of elections. Building an independent identity framework is expensive, often duplicating the efforts of other government agencies that are obliged to know their clients.

Commerce offers some solutions.

Ensuring that the results are accurate requires having systems and procedures that mitigate fraud and errors, ensuring that pronouncements that elections are free and fair are more than marketing hyperbole, and that they are beyond dispute. An interim audit well before the election provides the confidence that the results can be relied on. Ensuring that operational internal controls based on the principles of separation of duties and reconciliation gives stakeholders advance warning of potential problems. When the controls are wanting, the commission have time to implement improvements, and the potential for an audit of the results can be anticipated. When the commission admits the deficiencies and implements improvement, a second interim audit acts as confirmation that the changes are real.

If the commission fails to remedy the deficiencies, stakeholders are alerted to adopt alternative ways of checking that results are accurate. Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) is an option.

Some leading international election observation organizations use ODK to facilitate observation reporting. This platform can be readily adapted to PVT, and with co-operation between local and international observers, it is possible to replicate the official result reporting system ensuring that detection of errors or manipulation of results is detected and quantified, as it happens.

Planning complex projects is a profession, and until the commissioners and donors start to appreciate that professional guidance is necessary, failed elections resulting from missed deadlines will continue to bedevil democracies.

The solution to voter identification is co-ordination and cooperation between agencies and the building of a framework that provides businesses with confidence that the identity system confirms ID reliably. Privacy activists raise a legitimate concern that a unified identity platform places citizens at risk. The answer is the building of secure systems supported by careful legislation that severely punishes failure to keep the data safe and the theft or manipulation of the data for illegitimate purposes.

The cost of elections can be alleviated. The coordinated sharing of resources between EMBs is possible. Similarly, building a modular open source election platform for voter registration and result reporting would spread the cost of development, and allows the sharing of innovative solutions to common problems.

Undermining the implementation of these solutions is a denial of these problems exist and a lack of cooperation between government agencies and international donors. The United Nations which is best placed to lead the change is dysfunctional and often more a cause of the problems than a source of solutions.

Until we have change, we will continue to have failed elections.

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Trump calls for a new election

Donald Trump is questioning the legitimacy of the election that he won on November 8, 2016. There is only one remedy.

President Trump is claiming that 3-5 m million people voted illegally in the presidential election on November 8, 2016[1]Trump’s claim that 3-5 million people voted illegally in the election. Having conducted forensic investigations on elections for the past 16 years allows me to say that it’s impossible to say who benefitted from illegal ballots.Ballots are anonymous. No-one knows which are legitimate, and which are fraudulent.

The most common way of spotting illegal voting is when the number of ballots exceeds the number of people who voted (ballot stuffing) or when the number of votes exceeds the number of registered voters on the polling list at the polling station. Either way, all the votes for that place are declared illegal.

Trump is saying that there are 3-5 million illegal votes, which is far more than the 100,000 that swung the election in his favor.

So, the only solution is to have a new election.

Excellent idea!

More at:
Donald Trump claims none of those 3 to 5 million illegal votes were cast for him. Zero. Trump’s claim that 3-5 million people voted illegally in the election President Trump Reportedly Plans to Use Executive Action to Probe Debunked Voter Fraud Claims Trump Pushes Voter Fraud Claim Citing Fringe Blogger Trump Won’t Back Down From His Voting Fraud Lie. Trump won’t let go of one of his most important lies The Voter Fraud Fantasy White House Press Secretary Doubles Down on Trump’s Debunked Illegal Voter Claim

Trump didn’t win the election. Clinton lost it

Nevada is the only state that provides an option “None of these candidates”. Clinton won the state by 26,434 votes. None of these candidates won 28,824 n Nevada.

Trump and Clinton were the two most unpopular candidates in American history.

In the states other than Nevada, the options for voters to express their dissatisfaction were to write in an unregistered candidate, or not to vote at all. In both Florida and North Carolina the protest votes cast exceeded the difference between the candidates.

The presidential election usually draws far more votes than those cast for the congressional candidates. In 2008, less than a third of Senate races had 98 percent as many ballots cast as were cast for one of the presidential candidates. In 2012, about half of Senate contests did. This year? Nearly two-thirds of the Senate contests were within 2 percent of the number of presidential ballots cast.

Why was Clinton so unpopular? It seems she was unable to conceal her belief that a politician should have a private and a public position on policy. From her leaked emails, it is evident that she believes in telling the voters her public position, and then implementing her private views. To make matters worse, she was prepared to share these views with people who paid her to do so.

The distrust was earned.

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HRC Paid Speeches
Hundreds of thousands of Americans cast a ballot without voting for a presidential candidate
Podesta emails
WikiLeaks releases what appear to be Clinton’s paid Wall Street speeches