Assorted Opinions: Unusual Turnout

Posted by ractrose on 13 Nov 2020 in Nonfiction

Cartoon of party operative rationalizing




Assorted Opinions

Unusual Turnout




Much noise has been made this week in pursuit of voter fraud claims…so far found unwarranted. But there’s another side to this coin that the noise drowns out: election fraud. Tales of voter fraud—individuals forging ID in some way, then voting more than once—have the problem of scale. It’s hard to dream up ways outsiders, in suitable numbers, can break into the system.

Joe Biden has won the US election by tens of thousands of votes, per state. For TV scaremongering alone, white vans and hacked machines may work. They don’t work as proof in the courtroom.

On the other hand, there’s the inside job.

We’ve seen a lot of evidence, as to voter suppression practiced by parties in control. Suppression operates through gerrymandered districts, messaging aimed to discourage; through inconvenience, obstruction, and what’s known as the runaround: difficulties reaching the right person, supplying the right information, receiving return contacts (forms and instructions) in a timely fashion, etc.

The following is a speculative scenario. If you know of anything that contradicts or improves it, feel free to comment!



A state government is controlled by one political party. The majority of the state’s counties are controlled by the same party.


The party fixes elections in this way:


Of eligible voters a percentage will sit out any given election. [For the US total, in 2016, 136.8 million votes were cast, out of a voting age population of 245.5 million (Pew Research)] It is projected that a certain multiple will guarantee victory. Each controlled county has an expected percentage of registered voters “in play”. Each county has a party operative on-site. The party’s consultants determine numbers that can take an unusual voter turnout into account, and can be contained within the boundaries of the possible, as to the total numbers of voters registered to each party, plus independent voters, in each county.

A sequence of dozens to hundreds of ballots are extracted from the bottom third of total ballots, precinct by precinct, for each party-controlled county. Each county has one scanning machine “closeted”, into which prepared ballots can be loaded. This is done on election day, so that neither the late-sequencing numbers, nor the intermittent appearance of these ballots in the total count will look out of place…late-sequencing numbers have been chosen for that reason.

The problem of connecting numbered ballots to individual voters (the voter fraud requisite) is overcome because this is a state-run, insider exploit, not a person or group outside the center of power attempting fraud. If Joe Smith tries to vote twice, he will be found out, as the election board will have a record of which ballot was mailed to him, or his registration will have been checked at the polls. But if a corrupt state party controlling the ballots—from printing, to storage, to distribution—fills out several and votes them, the likelihood is small one will be pulled for audit. Most (if any) contested elections don’t involve trying to locate and interview each voter. The county’s party operative removes the ballots voted on the closeted machine; these are always under her control, always held aside, boxed and marked “conditional”, or any term that implies governmental process, and keeps them sequestered.

The trick depends on no cause existing for suspicion, if during the count the party’s candidate rises to a number that fits within expectations. If his lead grows as the night goes on, no one will see reason why it should not, the party being dominant in that state and that particular county. Provided the party operative loads ballots into the closeted machine in tranches, with a close eye on tallies, and provided the margin of victory adheres to the calculations, this activity will call no special attention to itself.

The set-aside boxes can be included in recounts, because they are entirely valid in numbering and type and appearance (they are entirely valid altogether, just fraudulently voted), and only a random auditing process—checking for fraud, not miscounts—would match a ballot to an actual person. But if an audit occurs, the party operative can withhold the closeted ballots and, very helpfully, assist the auditor’s accessing regular ones.

Poll workers can only account for their individual actions. While they’re at home and another shift is working, they have no eye on the process, but have no cause to doubt, either, totals they hear on the news. Watkins County can’t know the correct numbers for Duncan county, and Duncan County can’t know the correct numbers for Pierre County, etc.

Success comes down to a sleight of hand, where the telling proofs need never be front and center, but always slipped aside, the votes that ensure the candidate’s victory always under someone else’s watch, or in some circumstance where no one can wholly account for timeline and chain of custody. (A magic that bureaucracies can perform, and individuals can’t.) Any single closeted ballot will not yield much information, as no registration found to match it may mean the record was lost, mis-entered, damaged, or accidentally destroyed.

The corrupt party thus has a lot of leeway, in the use of their “insurance” ballots. In most elections, they can boost their candidate enough to avoid recounts and scrutiny, and keep up that discouraging messaging to the other party’s voters—that the side in power always wins, and that it’s a waste of time to stand in line. But in years that confound their predictions of voter turnout, they may not be able to risk investing enough insurance to alter outcomes.






Unusual Turnout

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(2020, Stephanie Foster)




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