Beginner’s Guide to Fixing Elections. It is not always possible to control the outcome of an election (remember 1990?!). The best thing is not to hold them at all – this worked well for all concerned in the Duvalier era. But, if elections are absolutely unavoidable, read the following guide and stay one step ahead of your competitors.
Guiding principle: minimise the turnout; the smaller the turnout, the easier it is to micro-manage the result.
Preparation is everything
–Eliminate hundreds of thousands of citizens from the electoral register by failing to issue them with valid National Identification Cards.
–Pass a law reducing the number of members constituting a valid political party from 500 to 20: the more ‘parties’ the better (see below).
– Take particular care over the CEP – make sure its nine members are incompetent, cowardly and, above all, corrupt. Experience is invaluable: ensure that the CEP is controlled by a man who has admitted to engaging in massive electoral fraud in the recent past.
–Have the CEP issue hundreds of thousands of independent election monitor passes and party election monitor passes to bogus election observation organisations and newly-formed ‘parties’. All the better if the passes are blank and thus easily reproducible.
–Promote the campaign manager of your favoured candidate to the position of Minister of the Interior (every little helps!).
–Make sure the president, vice-president and secretary of the Departmental Electoral Offices and Communal Electoral Offices are ‘on side’. They are appointed by the CEP, so this shouldn’t be a problem.
These offices are responsible for the following:
–Fine-tuning the electoral register: identifying voters unlikely to vote for your favoured candidate, and either a) leaving them off the register altogether, or b) putting them down to vote in a polling station miles from where they live.
–Setting up polling stations in tiny, cramped premises guaranteed to produce a maximum of chaos and a minimum of voter anonymity come polling day.
–Sending out to the polling stations flimsy cardboard ‘polling booths’ designed to make the ballot as public as possible.
–Sending out transparent plastic bags to be used as ballot boxes (ditto).
–Sending out ‘indelible ink’ markers that wash off under water, enabling individuals to vote multiple times.
If the above recommendations have been followed, you are ready for…
The massacre of voters outside polling stations is frowned up by the international community, (and anyway, it’s so ‘eighties’!). The discerning autocrat of 2015 prefers a more technocratic approach:
–Open polling stations late, or not at all.
–Tell the police to stop ‘unauthorised’ vehicles from circulating on polling day. This will make life particularly difficult for voters you have ascribed to polling stations miles from home.
–Ban the wearing of official observer or party representative vests to make it impossible to distinguish genuine voters from your hired fixers. Announce this decision the day before polling day.
–The ensuing chaos will make ballot-stuffing, vote-buying, intimidation and manipulation– not to mention the wholesale theft and destruction of ‘unfriendly’ ballot boxes — mere child’s play.
–Instruct polling station officials to add some marks of their own to the ballot papers when they distribute them to voters so that they can be discarded as invalid, if needs be, during scrutiny at the Tabulation Centre (see below).
–If, despite your best efforts, things are not going well, have your hired thugs fire shots or throw stones in the vicinity of the polling station. This will allow you to cancel the vote at that station amid ‘fears for the safety of voters’.
–Don’t stint on hired thugs: they are cheap but worth their weight in gold.
If you have followed the above recommendations, your candidate(s) should have romped home. Unless, of course, they really are phenomenally unpopular, in which case you will need to fall back on the Tabulation Centre…
The Vote Count
“The people who cast the votes don’t decide an election, the people who count the votes do”
–By a careful selection process, you will already have made sure that as many of the officials in the Tabulation Centre as possible are in your pocket. Make sure that ‘behind closed doors’ means just that: make the procedures of the TC as opaque as possible and, above all, do not disclose how the legal officials who oversee them came to be appointed.
–‘Adjust’ the votes cast using scissors, electric shredders or your own bare hands until your candidates have either won outright or at least gone through to the run-off. If, in addition to simply tearing up ballot papers, you have to resort to ‘vote weighting’ or ‘proportional re-adjustments’ governed by complex algorithms, the Organisation of American States will generally provide technocrats for the task – they were very obliging back in 2011!
–When you have achieved the desired result, you will need to have it ratified by the international community. So, call the international community (at the US Embassy) and respectfully suggest the following wording: “A handful of malcontents and politically-motivated agitators have cried ‘foul!’ But having seen no evidence to support their accusations, we consider them to be groundless. Our six observers were present at all 1500 voting centres and they noted nothing untoward. We salute the professionalism of the CEP and the Haitian National Police and we look forward to working with Haiti’s new president. Long live democracy!”
(Photo by UN/MINUSTAH/Victoria Hazou – courtesy of haitielection2015.blogspot.co.uk)