Let’s talk about a rigged election

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Delaware County Fair, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016, in Delaware, Ohio. Trump has claimed that the current election has been rigged against him. (Evan Vucci/ AP)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Delaware County Fair, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016, in Delaware, Ohio. Trump has claimed that the current election has been rigged against him. (Evan Vucci/ AP)

Donald Trump has been stepping up claims in recent weeks that the election is rigged against him, and that if he loses it will be because of this. He has been condemned by politicians on both sides of the aisle for undermining the sanctity of the election process. One of the cornerstone successes of our democracy is a peaceful transition of power, and never before has a candidate indicated that they may not abide by the results of an election.

Trump has consistently shown narcissistic personality traits throughout the course of the election. This claim about a rigged system is one he has repeated many times in the past when things aren’t going his way. He legitimately can’t seem to admit any fault in himself and take the blame for his own shortcomings.

If he does lose the election, it will not be because of a rigged system. It will be because not enough people wanted to vote for him, primarily because of the awful things he has said and done. He has run an atrocious general election campaign, and he has no one to blame but himself. The election is not rigged, but Trump needs to have an excuse for both his ego and his brand in case he loses the election, which is looking increasingly likely.

The election isn’t rigged against Trump, but there are certainly flaws in the way our elections occur. One of the ways our national elections are unfair is the process of gerrymandering. Partisan politicians are essentially in charge of creating their own districts within their states. This has led both parties to draw oddly shaped districts that make no logistical sense to limit the power of the other party and ensure their own victory. This process is corrupt because it silences the voices of ordinary citizens. For example, in 2012, Democratic House candidates nationwide got more than one million more votes than there Republican counterparts, but lost the House by a wide margin. This deficit was due in part to gerrymandering.

It is apparent that another unfair aspect of our process is the influence that corporations and big money interests exert. Because of the Citizens United decision, corporations can invest unlimited amounts of money in Super PACs to support political candidates. This not only allows corporations to have a massive impact on who gets elected, but also gives them a measure of control over the politicians they help elect. While politicians are not necessarily puppets of their big donors, it seems reasonable to suggest that they will be more willing to heed the opinion of those who bankroll their campaigns.

In the opinion of many, especially Al Gore enthusiasts, the Electoral College is a “rigged” system as well. It is not rigged in the sense that it always benefits one party or the other, as changing demographics generally keep the playing field about even. However, the Electoral College does give much more power to voters in swing states like Ohio and Florida, which are among the 10 or so states that currently have a significant chance of voting for either party. In addition, because nearly every state is winner-take-all, minority voters essentially have no impact on the outcome of the presidential election.

There is no evidence for our national elections being rigged against Mr. Trump, and because of the decentralized nature of our elections, it would be logistically impossible to engage in a massive conspiracy to “steal” it. But it is important that we have a national conversation about the aspects of the process that can be construed as unfair to those running or to the voters themselves. It is important to repeal Citizens United, and lessen the influence of corporations in our politics. Constructing voting districts should be handled by a nonpartisan group so that neither party can ensure their own victory. Finally, we should reevaluate the Electoral College, and decide whether electing our president based on the popular vote alone would be a more democratic process.


Jacob Kowalski is a weekly columnist to The Daily Campus opinion section. He can be reached via email at jacob.kowalski@uconn.edu.