Election Shenanigans?

Garen Yegparian
Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

After Labor Day, things get intense in the quadrennial U.S. presidential election that culminates on November 8. The unprecedented levels of dissatisfaction with the presidential candidates and the reality that one of them has no real policy proposals have led to an “issues free” election as a political analyst friend recently observed. You have probably already noticed this since much of the “debate” has centered on the personalities of the two, major-party, contenders.

But the funny-business doesn’t end at the presidential level nor at the U.S. border. There is very intense political warfare coming since both houses of Congress are in play. That is, control might flip from the Republicans to the Democrats. California voters alone have 17 (yes SEVENTEEN) propositions to consider and decide on. Some of these just change laws, others, the California constitution. At least one is intentionally deceptive and another is only advisory. Sound confusing? I will explore and make recommendations on these over the coming weeks

But the shenanigans are just as worrisome in the Republic of Armenia. The problem was exposed in recent news reports about the government abrogating its agreement with opposition parties to implement election-rigging prevention measures through the use of electronic equipment. At first, the government made clear that it could not fund the required changes, so money had to come from the outside. European Union countries pledged the necessary 16 million Euros ($17.8 million). Now, the government claims it doesn’t have time to implement the promised changes because the company hired to do the job can’t start printing voter ID cards by the September 1 deadline that had been set. It can start by December 1. The government claims this is too close, timewise, to the March parliamentary election and has annulled the agreement with the opposition. There is some hope that a less comprehensive fraud prevention system might still be worked out, but specifics are sparse.

But election fraud (as opposed to voter fraud) is not something that can happen only in newer democracies. With the advent of electronic voting devices, the hacking of election software has become a persistent concern. Please DO NOT CONFUSE this problem with the GROUNDLESS fears spread by right wing politicians of voter fraud, which, according to one researcher might have occurred in 31 out of 1,000, 000, 000 cases. The fears are used to pass voter ID laws which serve only to scare people into not voting.

We should be concerned that the FBI found breaches by hackers of two states’, Arizona and Illinois, election systems. This is the efficient way to “steal” an election. Quietly, surreptitiously, change the code, the programming which tallies people’s votes so that no matter what the real count would have been, the result is predetermined. Luckily, in these two cases, the harm done was nowhere near that serious. We should be alert to these abuses and preempt them (by insisting on redundant paper documentation of the votes). We should not let the cynicism they can breed lead us to NOT vote, because then the crooks win, and the vast, overwhelming majority of us, lose.

I would be remiss if I didn’t provide an example of another type of shenanigan, one with a recent example to view. Remember Turkey’s June 2015 election? Remember that Erdoğan’s AK Party did not get a parliamentary majority? Remember how forming a government dragged on while a civil war was reignited in the country? Remember how the November 2015 election produced a majority for the AKP? Does this look like election fraud on a grand scale to you? It sure does to me.

Please, closely review the official election materials you will receive in about a month. Even the mailers, for and against candidates and ballot measures, can sometimes be informative. But also read the analyses here and elsewhere about the issues facing your city, county, and state. Don’t focus exclusively on the presidential shenanigans, there’s a lot more to a U.S. election than that.

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4 Comments

  1. Victoria Markarian said:

    Right on, Garen. All citizens need to be aware of what the upcoming propositions are about. I am a member of the League of Women Voters, San Joaquin County, and part of my title as Voter Services represent is to go to various local venues and attempt to explain the ballot measures and give voters the pros & cons of each. I’ll look forward to your commentaries on same.

  2. Tavit said:

    Only corrupt people and political parties are scared of voter ID. It is not required to show any identification when I vote, but I show my driver’s ID and Certificate of Registration of my county and state. The volunteers at the voting room take my both IDs, I’m sure they don’t check against anything, after I sign next to my name in the book they return my IDs politely then I walk to voting booth and vote proudly. Only those who are not qualified to vote or perjurers are scared from voter IDs. California is the biggest corrupt state where illegals vote without fear or consequences and the crooks, Democrats, win most of the time.

  3. Red-neck Robert said:

    Again as one who finds himself frustrated in the quest to add my voice to the Armenian Diaspora in America, Garen Yegparian continues to disappoint. To posit the notion that the same people who shamelessly squander an ever-larger portion of this nation’s dwindling resources in an unending procession of crony capitalism schemes; who grant access on a pay-to-play basis in she greater portion of their conduct of the public’s business; that they would never stoop to voter fraud to maintain their grip on power displays either an astonishing naivety or the grossest of deceptive conduct. Shame on you, Garen Yegparian, and all those who promote you. Perhaps if it could be arranged for you to swap positions with a typical Armeniian (or better, Artsakh) citizen for a year or however long it takes for you to come to understand the apprehension those people must feel of never knowing whether they will wake up to another day of life or be slaughtered by the Turks in the night, you could come to a proper perspective of what is important in life.

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