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The United States Has a Rich History of Rigged Elections

Tom Lohr is a 24-year navy veteran. He enjoys traveling and writing about his experiences.

Politics is Not Pretty

We live in strange times. The year 2020 will go down as one in which everyone's life changed; mostly for the worse. They either lost their job, knew someone that died of COVID-19, were unable to visit relatives, had to cancel vacation and worst of all, with nothing to do, had to watch daytime television.

It should come as no surprise that the 2020 election was a weird event as well. Suffering from nationwide divisiveness, voters flocked to the polls to ensure their candidate was elected. There were rallies, town halls, parades, protests and virtual everything to drum up support for either President Trump or former Vice-President Biden. Come the day after the election, the United States still didn't know who was going to be their leader. It was 2000 all over again.

Much of the delay had two causes: it was a very close race, and an unprecedented amount of voters either voted early or mailed in ballots. It wasn't an election day, it was an election season. There was much prodding and advertising to encourage citizens to vote early and by mail. In retrospect, it was a decision that cast a pall of suspicion on the election.

Regardless of who you voted for, there is sufficient reason to be skeptical. After all, if Russia, as claimed, could tamper with the 2016 election by having a few bots spout nastiness on the internet, imagine what people who actually handle real ballots could do.

If you think 2020 was an outlier in the amount of political shenanigans polluting the election, think again. America has a solid history of fixing political races, many involving the presidency. Here are the most egregious.

Jefferson cheated and still got his face on Mount Rushmore

Jefferson cheated and still got his face on Mount Rushmore

Election of 1800: Adams vs Jefferson vs Burr

Before we beat up on the legislators of 1800, remember it was only the fourth election in US history. The process needed some massaging to become the system we have today. The problem that caused all the ruckus was not the president, but the vice-president. In 1800, parties did not have tickets of a president and vice-president, just two guys from the same party. In this case it was Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr running for the Democrat-Republicans (yes, they were actually chums at one time), against the Federalists John Adams and Charles Pinckney. Each state's electors had two votes, one for president and one for vice-president. The person with the most votes became president and the runner-up became the vice-president. To avoid a tie, one of the party's electors would vote for someone who was not running (John Jay in this instance). The Federalist executed this tactic perfectly, but the Democrat-Republicans didn't, resulting in a tie between Jefferson and Burr.

It was understood that Jefferson was the primary candidate for president for his party, with Burr running for vice-president. As a result of the tie, it fell upon the House of Representatives to vote and chose the president. Burr saw an opportunity and at that point was running against the favored son of his own party. The House voted 34 times, each resulting in a tie. It took lobbying from Alexander Hamilton (that guy on the ten-dollar bill), to sway opinion and on the 35th try the House elected Thomas Jefferson as president with Burr getting the number two spot. In historical irony, Burr would later kill Hamilton in a duel.

But here is the wrinkle: the electoral votes from Georgia were not completed properly. They should not have counted. As Georgia was a fan of Jefferson, the leader of the President of the Senate (the current vice-president) counted them anyway. The vice-president and President of the Senate at that time was none other than Thomas Jefferson himself. Without those votes, there would not have been a clear majority and the electors would have to vote again. Thomas Jefferson basically rigged the vote to ensure he was elected.

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson

Election of 1824: Adams vs Jackson vs Crawford vs Clay

The Democrat-Republicans were guaranteed a victory in the 1824 election; all four candidates were members of the same party. If you thought Al Gore or Hillary Clinton were bitter because they won the popular vote but not the electoral, think of how Andrew Jackson felt. He won both the popular and electoral votes. You would think that would be enough, but Jackson failed to win enough electoral votes to claim a majority. So, once again, the fate of the presidency fell to the House of Representatives.

In the House vote, only the top three vote getters were considered; Adams, Jackson and Crawford. The fact that Jackson was not declared president after winning the popular and electoral votes is reason enough to hold the election of 1824 in disdain. But it was the “corrupt bargain” that makes it sketchy as hell.

Clay wanted to be president badly, but because he got the least amount of votes in the general election, the contingent election held by the House of Representatives did not include him. However, he had a bargaining chip: Henry Clay was the Speaker of the House, thereby having much influence on the House or Representatives.

Previously, most of the presidents were former Secretaries of State. Becoming the Secretary of State was the equivalent to becoming the heir apparent to the presidency. It is alleged that Speaker Clay offered his support to John Quincy Adams in exchange for being appointed to the position. The House voted Adams into the White House, and Adams quickly named Clay as his Secretary of State. The will of the people was clearly disregarded in favor of personal gain.

In a hefty dose of poetic justice, Jackson beat the pants off of Adams in the next election. Even sweeter, Henry Clay was never elected president.

Rutherford B. Hayes

Rutherford B. Hayes

Election of 1876: Hayes vs Tilden

This matchup of candidates is probably a little easier to grasp. It was Rutherford Hayes, a Republican running against Samuel Tilden, a Democrat. Ulysses Grant was the incumbent president, and although legal at the time, he chose not to run for a third term.

At the end of the election, Tilden held a significant electoral lead. However, four states that represented 20 electoral votes, could not certify their results. There was widespread voter fraud in those states. South Carolina had a 101% turnout of registered voters. An elector from Oregon was deemed not certified to act in that capacity by the governor, and he replaced him with an elector from his own party. The fraud was so prevalent that the 20 electoral votes were held in limbo.

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As inauguration day approached, and no winner declared, a special commission was appointed to iron out the results. The commission was made up of both Democrats and Republicans. In the end, the commission gave the 20 electoral votes to Hayes. The Democrats had good reason to question the process, but relented and agreed to accept Hayes as president in return for the withdrawal of federal troops from the south (who had been there since the end of the Civil War).

Widespread voter fraud, fights over electoral ballots, legislating the presidency; does any of this sound familiar?

1960 Election: Kennedy vs Nixon

This is an election that some of you might actually remember. It was a nail biter to remember. In an extremely close election, the Democrat candidate Kennedy beat the Republican Nixon. The electoral count was not that close however, as Kennedy won 303 to Nixon's 219. Despite claims that Nixon won the popular vote, the difference was so razor thin that a recount could have gone either way. But it was the electoral vote that handed Kennedy the election...or did it.

There were reports of voter fraud in two states with large a large electoral vote haul: Illinois and Texas. Nixon won nearly all areas of Illinois except the populous Cook County, where Chicago is located. Chicago has a long history of crooked politics and fixed elections. The political machine in Chicago, headed by Mayor Daley, allegedly had ways to fix an election that could not be detected during a recount. A major newspaper in the city proclaimed that,”once an election has been stolen in Cook County, it stays stolen.”

A noted reporter named Mazo looked into the election as part of a multi part piece he was writing. In Chicago, Mazo found numerous irregularities that lends to the argument that Illinois was indeed stolen from Nixon. Some of those irregularities include votes cast by people who were dead, and 56 voters that had the same address. One can only speculate how deep the actual fraud went.

In Texas, home of Kennedy's running mate Lyndon Johnson, there was also cause for alarm and suspicion. In one county, 6,138 votes were a county with a population of 4,895; three-quarters of those votes were for Kennedy.

Why is all the election fraud in in Illinois and Texas important? Illinois had 27 electoral votes and Texas 24. Those 51 electoral votes, with the 219 votes Nixon had already won would give Nixon a final tally of 270 electoral votes and Nixon would have been president.

George W. Bush

George W. Bush

2000 Election: Bush vs Gore

The new millennium was supposed to be one of hope, harmony and flying cars. Instead, it began with one of the most confusing and contested presidential elections in history. The election had several state final vote tallies with less than one percent difference between the two candidates. While those were hashed out without incident, it was the state of Florida that was set to play kingmaker. The Sunshine State's 25 electoral votes would decide who moved into the White House. At the end of counting, Bush had 537 votes more than Gore, giving him a grand total of 271 electoral votes and the presidency. Or did it? There were law suits, recounts, bickering and other political maneuvers that landed the decision in the Supreme Court, which ultimately awarded Bush a victory. The United States went a month without knowing for sure who had won the election. If you think the 2020 election was weird, 2000 was even weirded. For me, it was personally frustrating. I was living in Germany at the time and was asked hundreds of times what was going on with the US election. Try explaining the 2000 election as it was unfolding, to non US citizens in another language when you don't really know what is going on yourself.

During all of the political positioning and legal action, the Gore team was planning an unorthodox, and immoral plan to win the election. His team concluded that if they could get just 4 of Florida's 25 electors to abandon the will of the state's citizens and vote for him instead of bush, it would give him the electoral numbers to win. The fact that Gore won the popular vote was a talking point in trying to convince numerous electors in Florida and other states. Since electors are not legally bound (but morally bound) to vote their state wishes, it would be a legal, albeit underhanded, gambit.

It was discovered that Gore's team had begun checking into the background of numerous Republican electors, purportedly to dig up dirt to persuade those electors to see things their way. No one is certain what, if any, dirt was uncovered, but it smacks of a blatant attempt at blackmail in an effort to sway an election. Gore's people even posted the names and contact information of Republican electors in hopes that the citizenry would harass them enough to change their vote. In other words, they Maxine Watersed many of the electors. It began a counter movement to stop Democrat electoral tampering.

Despite Gore's underhanded attempt to get electors to change their vote, none did. George W. Bush ended up the victor. Rigging the electoral system failed

Elections and pandemics to not mix

Elections and pandemics to not mix

2020 Election: Trump vs Biden

The election was rigged!!

Too soon?

It seems like 2000 yet again, with the courts likely to play a hand in some of it. While there is some early circumstantial evidence of vote tampering, it is unlikely enough to change the results. At least this time the networks didn't call states until it was certain what the outcome was. If there ends up that there was a concerted effort to illegally affect the outcome don't be surprised, the United States has a checkered history of rigging presidential elections. Just ask Aaron Burr or Richard Nixon.

2020 Election


MG Singh emge from Singapore on November 09, 2020:

This is an interesting article and gives me a lot of information about things I didn't know. Maybe even the election may have been fixed because Trump was leading all the time till the postal ballots came and then Biden went ahead.

Grace Marguerite Williams from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on November 08, 2020:

Yes, this election was rigged. The Democrats were against Trump since his inception as President. They devised unethical ways to undermine him. It was their goal to get rid of him. So they devised so-called Russia conspiracies & impeachment which was overturned for lack of evidence. Now, they have gotten their wish. The Democrats had a vehement animus against Trump for he wanted to make America great. The aim of the Democrats is to ruin America.

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