When people ask the question above, they immediately think of rigging elections directly; that is, by stuffing ballot boxes with forged ballots, "counting" the votes in a way that favors a certain candidate, or by controlling electronic voting machines. But there are other ways to affect the outcomes of elections that could be construed as "unfair":
- Voter intimidation or coercion: The democrats proposed a bill a few years ago to allow unions to be created via card check, and opponents correctly argued that this would eliminate a worker's right to a secret ballot and thus be pressured by others to vote in favor of union creation. And who can forget the presence of some members of the New Black Panther Party stationed outside a polling location on the day Mr. Obama was elected President?
- Polls can influence opinions (rather than report them): Whether it's opinion polls, favorability ratings, or exit/entrance polls, there is plenty of opportunity for improvement. Some common problems with polls include: poorly designed studies in which samples are anything but representative, biased interpretation of results, and influencing how stories are reported in the media.
- The media: Certainly it's possible for the media to give positive press to candidates or ideas that their bosses agree with, and vice versa (can you say Ron Paul).
- The government: Some would argue that the government has some influence on the media and thus indirectly have some influence on elections. I concur with that reasoning.
- Money: Does money help to win elections? Or do the attractive candidates raise the most money? Definitely worth investigating, given the fundraising surges seen with the Santorum campaign after Iowa and the Gingrich campaign after South Carolina.
I will be investigating these kinds of topics as well as some fundamental topics on the current state of the political and economic systems, both here in the United States and around the world. Maybe some of you will join me in this quest for truth.