Election malpractice is a term used to describe any illegal or unethical activities that occur during an election, either before, during or after the election. Election malpractice can take various forms, including voter suppression, ballot stuffing, rigging, and other forms of election fraud. Election malpractice is a serious issue because it undermines the democratic process and erodes public trust in the electoral system. In this article, we will discuss different types of election malpractice, their effects on the electoral process, and strategies for preventing election malpractice.
Types of Election Malpractice
- Voter Suppression
Voter suppression is a deliberate attempt to prevent eligible voters from exercising their right to vote. This can take various forms, including the implementation of voter ID laws, the purging of voter rolls, and the reduction of polling stations. Voter suppression can also include voter intimidation, such as using armed militia groups to patrol polling stations or spreading false information about voting procedures.
Voter suppression can have a significant impact on the outcome of an election, particularly in close races. In the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election, for example, there were reports of long lines and malfunctioning voting machines in predominantly African American neighborhoods, which resulted in many voters being unable to cast their ballots. The Republican candidate won the election by a margin of just over 50,000 votes, leading to accusations of voter suppression.
- Ballot Stuffing
Ballot stuffing is the practice of adding fraudulent votes to the ballot box. This can be accomplished in various ways, including the use of pre-marked ballots, the addition of fake ballots, or the manipulation of vote counting machines. Ballot stuffing is a serious offense because it can significantly impact the outcome of an election.
Ballot stuffing has been a major problem in many countries, particularly those with weak electoral systems or high levels of corruption. In the 2014 presidential election in Afghanistan, for example, there were widespread reports of ballot stuffing, which led to a protracted political crisis and delayed the announcement of the election results.
- Voter Intimidation
Voter intimidation is a tactic used to dissuade eligible voters from casting their ballots. This can take various forms, including verbal or physical harassment, threatening phone calls or emails, and the use of armed militia groups to patrol polling stations.
Voter intimidation can have a significant impact on the outcome of an election, particularly in communities that have historically faced discrimination or marginalization. In the 2016 US presidential election, for example, there were reports of voter intimidation in predominantly minority communities, which resulted in lower turnout among these groups.
Rigging is a form of election malpractice that involves the manipulation of the electoral process to favor one candidate over another. This can take various forms, including the manipulation of voter registration rolls, the use of fake ballots or voting machines, or the manipulation of vote counting processes.
Rigging is a serious offense because it undermines the fundamental principles of democracy, such as free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power. In many countries, rigging has led to political instability, civil unrest, and even armed conflict.
Effects of Election Malpractice
- Undermining Democratic Processes
Election malpractice undermines the democratic process by creating an uneven playing field for candidates and parties. When the electoral process is compromised, it can lead to a lack of trust in the electoral system and the government as a whole.
- Disenfranchising Voters
Election malpractice can disenfranchise voters by preventing them from exercising their right to vote. This can happen through voter suppression tactics or other forms of voter intimidation, which can lead to low turnout and a lack of representation for certain communities.
- Impeding Economic Development
Election malpractice can impede