So, there are things I want to revisit about this post from October 20—specifically, as pertains to the sentence “this [election] hasn’t really been close for a year or so”, I’d like to punch the guy who typed that in the nuts until such time as his eyeballs fill with blood—but I stand by the gist of this:
Here’s the thing: at the national level the U.S. election system—being a bass-akward county-by-county patchwork with little network connectivity and lots of different paper trails—is broadly unriggable. Yes, many pockets are vulnerable to manipulation, but that can only tip a close election
And would like to draw your attention to the added emphasis in the final clause—because this was a very close election, and it was tipped.
But I do not believe it was “rigged.” Check out this brief essay from Bruce Schneier for reassurance of this. If you don’t know Bruce, you can take my word that he is the guy to listen to on this. He wrote the bible of modern cryptography, vetted a lot of the documents Snowden obtained, and is basically unimpeachable in his writing on security, and on the grave threats posed by a surveillance state. I’ve been personally following Schneier’s career for almost two decades, and absolutely believe that his call in these matters is solid.
So, in terms of hacked voting machines and manipulated voter roles and Russian machinations, this election was not rigged.
But was the outcome of this very close election tipped by gerrymandering and voter suppression?
Well, let’s consider Florida—just hypothetically:
- About 9 million people voted in Florida this year
- Florida’s population is about 37% black and brown (almost a quarter of the state is Latinx)
- Clinton lost FLA by about 120,000 votes
So, let’s say that people of color represent just 30% of Florida’s voters—and that these voters strongly favored Clinton (which a large number of polls indicated). How much suppression of the black and brown vote does it take to shift Clinton from winning that race to losing it by 120,000 votes (keeping in mind that you must win FLA by more than .5% in order to avoid a recount)? A little math, and we discover it’s:
If you prevent just 7 in every 100 voters of color from voting in Florida, you get the flip we saw.
Hypothetically. Just sayin’
Now, could 7 in every 100 voters of color be discouraged by three hour lines, or confusion about what ID they needed, or fear of prosecution for unpaid tickets, or misled about what day they were to vote or if they could do so online in advance? Could 7 in every 100 voters of color have their ballots discarded as spoiled, or set aside because there was something wrong with their registration, or forced to vote a provisional ballot that would never be counted unless the final tally was less than .5% in favor of one candidate?
I have no idea.
But I’ve seen folks discouraged by less, and cheated out of more. And I’m sure you have, too.
And such very mild suppression—just a few percent here and there, out on the edges of cities where the Blue urban core sprawls out into the Red Suburbs—is nationally amplified by the electoral college.
Not that I’m saying that such fuckery is what happened, or that any such systemic tom-foolery played part in how we wound up with the the Guy Who got Second Place as our President-Elect.
I’m just sayin’, is all. Just sayin’
And all of that said, I still think you should watch the video I posted way back on October 20 (and embed again below)—because what that video warns us is the most important bit of all right now:
Twilight Zone – The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street from Kevin on Vimeo.