Let’s face facts. There is nothing historically un-American about election skulduggery. Not only is it traditional, it may even be proper. If your party gets outskulduggled, that tells us something—just as if you lost a real head-bashing contest. It tells you that the other side was strong and your side was weak.
Woe to the defeated, Brennus said! And chucked his sword upon the scales—which the whipped Romans had to balance in gold. They remembered that whipping for a long time. Maybe they even turned a profit on it in the end.
While skulduggery is wrong, in a sense it is right; because an election is a proxy for civil war. Perhaps the best analogy is water polo. Above the water, water polo is a sport with a referee. Under the water, anything goes—these guys are twisting each others’ balls all afternoon. (And their lawyers are twisting each others’ balls about the rules.) Also, if you do not play the underwater game, you are playing wrong and will just lose.
Since balloted elections are actually designed to destroy information—that secret-ballot thing—the bottom layer of every election, the trust layer below anything the security layer can touch—is pure agar for any and all ball-twisting fuckery. The security of an election is a consequence of the thickness of this layer and should be treated as such. Also, if you do not play the underwater game, you are playing wrong and will just lose.
If any election system were fuckery-proof, would it need election observers? Also: is there any system in America that counts or tracks citizens precisely and reliably? Also: is there any system in America that you would trust to mechanically distinguish everyone’s signature from some random scrawl? Also: what stops anyone running a voting station from slipping ballots in at the end of the day, while crossing off the names of people who didn’t vote? There is plenty of evidence that there is no election fraud—and plenty of evidence that no one is looking for it, or even could find it.
We know exactly what a genuinely secure physical and electronic counting system looks like. It looks like Vegas. We know exactly what a genuinely secure 21st-century voting system looks like. It looks like Sweden, Mexico or even Iraq.
Ours looks nothing like any of these things. It looks, in fact, like a typical American shitshow. (Or, as the New York Times put it in 2016, horror show.) And anyone who lacks quick and savage comebacks for the above questions is ill-positioned to educate us out of this Bayesian prior.