"We don't sell our votes"
What is Electoral Fraud?
Electoral fraud is illegal interference with the process of an election. Acts of fraud affect vote counts to bring about an election result, whether by increasing the vote share of the favored candidate, depressing the vote share of the rival candidates, or both. What electoral fraud is under law varies from country to country.
One of the controversy that happen in the Philippines is the "Hello Garci Controversy", The scandal involved former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who allegedly rigged the 2004 national election in her favor. The official results of that election gave Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Noli de Castro the presidency and vice-presidency, respectively. Hundreds of national and local positions were also contested during this election. The scandal and crisis began in June 2005 when audio recordings of a phone call conversation between President Arroyo and then Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano allegedly talking about the rigging of the 2004 national election results, were released to the public. This escalated, when the minority of the lower house of Congress attempted to impeach Arroyo. This was blocked by Arroyo's coalition in September 2005. No trial has taken place thus far.
Allegations against Arroyo and her accomplices in government are many, including electoral fraud and a subsequent cover-up. The administration has denied some of the allegations and challenged others in court. The House of Representatives, which is dominated by Arroyo's coalition allies, blocked attempts for an impeachment trial. Arroyo's most well-known alleged accomplice from the electoral commission, Virgilio Garcillano, was missing for a few months, but has returned to the capital in late 2005. Allegations persist regarding possible conspirators from the government who helped in his escape, and another alleged cover-up. Garcillano denied any wrongdoing, before his disappearance, and after his return. In December 2006, Garcillano was cleared of perjury charges by the Department of Justice. A Senate investigation is ongoing.
Prevention and Ways how to stop Vote Buying
The two main strategies for the prevention of electoral fraud in society are: 1) deterrence through consistent and effective prosecution; 2) Cultivation of mores that discourage corruption. The two main fraud prevention tactics, ironically, can be summarized as secrecy and openness. The secret ballot prevents many kinds of intimidation and vote selling, while transparency at all other levels of the electoral process prevents and detects most interference.
Top 10 Ways to Stop Voter Fraud
- Congressional Investigations. The first step is for Congress to fully exercise its constitutional duty of "oversight" by investigating the numerous instances of voter fraud in Florida and other states. Already Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-FL) has called for an investigation into the widespread and unfair discounting of thousands of absentee military ballots.
- Statewide Investigations. Those states where evidence of fraud was rampant - Florida, California, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, to name a few --- should be encouraged to initiate investigations of their own. These states should follow the lead of Florida, which has already established an investigative task force.
- Establish Electoral Review Commission. Several bills were proposed in the last Congress (Election Reform Act S. 1, H.R. 5674, H.R. 5631) which will be reintroduced in the new 107th Congress with new bill numbers. All seek to establish a commission to address voting irregularities and fraud. One or more of these must be swiftly enacted.
- Strengthen Current Vote Fraud Laws. Many states have laws on the books against voter fraud but rarely, if ever, enforce them. Now is the time to strengthen the civil and penal penalties for vote fraud and to strongly enforce them. The Attorney Generals of California and Florida, for example, have their work cut out for them.
- Make Vote Fraud a "Federal" Crime. Congress should enact legislation making vote fraud of any kind a federal crime. This would be vigorously enforced by a new and ethical Department of Justice under Attorney General John Ashcroft.
- Standardized Ballots. States should eliminate punch-card ballots and replace them with simple, easy-to-read paper ballots. All machine votes should be authenticated with a verifiable paper trail at each precinct. Congress should consider establishing a separate, standardized paper ballot for presidential elections.
- Expand Military Voting Rights. As exemplified by the Florida debacle of 2000, thousands of military absentee ballots were unfairly discarded and not counted. Both houses of Congress should enact Rep. Bill Thomas' (R-CA) resolution (formerly H.R. 5174) and the Military Voting Rights Act (formerly H.R. 2685) which would make it easier for military personnel to vote by placing voting booths on all U.S. military installations.
- Create National Database of Criminal Voters. Congress should pass legislation creating a national database which assists states and individual counties in scrubbing their voter registration rolls of felons and convicts. Similarly, the INS should create and maintain a national database of known illegal aliens which performs the same task.
- Ban Campaigning & Voter Registration Drives in Prisons. The NAACP and other liberal groups have been registering prisoners with misdemeanors; liberal candidates (like Marion Barry in 1994) have exploited prisons for campaign visits. If campaigning in churches is prohibited, then campaigning in prisons should also be banned.
- Hold Media Accountable. The Voter News Service (and its liberal media subscribers) made an early call of victory for Gore in Florida costing George Bush thousands of votes in the central time zone of the panhandle. This erroneous reporting must be held accountable. Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA) has already pledged a congressional investigation. Legislation should be considered by Congress which forces the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to impose penalties and fines on any media outlet which reports false voting results in federal and congressional elections.