Land Of The Free? Harvard Study Ranks America Worst In West For Fair Elections

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Above Photo: “This is not democracy, it is a dictatorship” – Protest in Madrid, Spain. (Photo: Marta Breijo / Flickr)

As if further proof could possibly be needed of the sorry state of the American electoral process, a new study just ranked the United States dead last in electoral integrity among established Western democracies.

The Electoral Integrity Project (EIP)’s 2015 Year in Elections report is an independent research project by 2,000 elections experts from Harvard University and the University of Sydney in Australia assembled to examine the world’s elections.

The EIP states that “the core notion of ‘electoral integrity’ refers to agreed international principles and standards of elections, applying universally to all countries worldwide throughout the electoral cycle, including during the pre-electoral period, the campaign, and on polling day and its aftermath. Conversely, ‘electoral malpractice’ refers to violations of electoral integrity.”

“The report gathers assessments from over 2,000 experts to evaluate the perceived integrity of all 180 national parliamentary and presidential contests held between July 1, 2012 to December 31, 2015 in 139 countries worldwide. These include 54 national elections held last year.

“Forty experts were asked to assess each election by answering 49 questions. The overall 100-point Perceptions of Electoral Integrity (PEI) index is constructed by summing up the responses,” Salon explained.

According to the EIP, U.S. elections scored lower than Argentina, South Africa, Tunisia, and Rwanda — and strikingly lower than even Brazil. Specifically compared to Western democracies, U.S. elections scored the lowest, slightly worse than the U.K., while Denmark and Finland topped the list.

But, while certainly revealing, the U.S.’ low ranking — which places the nation in the second, or “good,” tier and perilously close to the “moderate” third tier of five possible — could hardly come as a shock to Americans.

Indeed, the 2016 elections have proven the system so rigged, even those who’d previously still harbored illusions our democracy is fair, have begun to come to terms with the truth: the political establishment’s corporatist plutocrats choose their own to install in the White House every four years.

Hillary Clinton ‘winning’ Wyoming’s primary despite being summarily trounced by Bernie Sanders in the popular vote — with her 44 percent to his 56 percent — simply evidence the latest example of the farcical illusion of choice revealed by EIP. Superdelegates — who aren’t beholden to vote for a candidate according to the popular choice and could potentially sway the nomination — are causing an even greater uproar among Democrats fed up with the establishment’s obvious favorite candidate, Hillary.

On the other side of the political spectrum, Trump’s challenge to the status quo has incited a furious scramble by the GOP establishment intent to thwart his nomination — no matter his sizable popular support. With rumors flying of a contested or brokered Republican National Convention, it’s possible the establishment will succeed — despite Trump’s own prediction the move will incite riots. To wit, Trump called out the delegate system as “rigged” on Thursday, following Colorado’s lack of primary and subsequent choice to award all of its delegates to Ted Cruz.

Though voting ostensibly remains a right instead of a privilege, as highlighted by John Oliver recently, voter ID laws have drastically curtailed people’s ability to simply vote for the leader of their choosing under the guise of fighting (effectively nonexistent) voter fraud. Even further to the point, many states requiring IDs to vote have such wildly inaccurate voter records that many people end up turned away at the polls — in some cases, when their information hadn’t changed since the previous election.

Though reasons why the United States has reached this new low in fair elections are complex, critics often point to the tidal wave of corporate cash after the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United. But this may be somewhat misguided. Would removing cash automatically bring some voting power back to the public? Perhaps to an extent. But it also ignores the will of the establishment to ensure its rulers always win — in other words, where there’s a will there’s a way.

Perhaps the EIP’s revealing report can convince people that participating in the illusion isn’t solving anything — and that ruling ourselves through the creation of such workable systems through agorism, among other ideas, are ultimately the most favorable for us all.




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  • Jon

    “o’er the laaaand of the fee, and the hooome of the slave.”

  • Stuffcrusts

    Best nation on earth my ass!

  • DHFabian

    Trump/Clinton were selected for us. Much of the Republican voting base deeply opposes Trump, much of the Democratic voting base deeply opposes Clinton. There are options on both sides, Sanders and Cruz, but it appears that Trump/Clinton was already selected on our behalf.

    Now we take this through our wildly convoluted delegate system, where the votes of the people aren’t relevant, and one of these two contestants are selected. Then we resume our pretense of having a representative democracy.

  • DHFabian

    The US actually was a world leader in every respect, but only for a brief time, from FDR to Reagan. We are no longer top dog economically or militarily, our education system was pushed far behind those of the modern nations, and we’ve quietly been transitioning into another third world country.

  • DHFabian

    A more critical issue is that of having someone to vote for, someone who represents the masses — poor and middle class, workers and the jobless. We’re being given a choice of two candidates who have the same agenda, essentially the same platform, and who are opposed by the masses. We have another generation that appears to be “Reaganized” on the most critical issues, and they aren’t going to “rise up.” We’ve been hearing that the young are on the brink of Rising Up! since Reagan was elected. Besides, how many people can get enough time off from work to “rise up?”

  • William John Cox

    Please take a couple of minutes and look at the various provisions of the USVRA and imagine for a further moment the transformation of the government that its enactment would bring about. With that the representatives would in fact represent those who elect them. ~wm

  • Ernest Martinson

    Thank the soldiers fighting for our freedom to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July in this exceptional land of the free where most of us are still free to vote for a bigger place at the public trough in exchange for not objecting to the national security state.

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  • Prince

    The U.S.A. was never meant to be a Democracy, it is supposed to be a Constitutional Republic.

  • kevinzeese

    Yes, but with democratically elected representatives. So the reality of manipulated elections still matters.

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  • Shazzamulator

    The last soldiers to fight for our “freedom” were in the Civil War.

  • Ernest Martinson

    And the Confederates lost their bid for freedom in the War of Secession.