Dear Donald Trump, This Is What A Rigged Election Looks Like

Dear Donald Trump, This Is What A Rigged Election Looks Like

Voting doesn’t mean much in Kazakhstan. Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters

Throughout the 2016 campaign, Republican Party nominee Donald Trump has consistently claimed the US election will be rigged. Trump has said he will accept the outcome of the vote on November 8, if he wins. But he has not confirmed whether he will accept a Hillary Clinton victory as valid.

Experts agree that it is almost impossible to rig a US election due to the complex, distributed electoral system, and the sheer number of people involved in overseeing it.

But that’s not the case everywhere. In many parts of the world, ballot boxes are routinely stuffed, opposition parties silenced and voters intimidated.

The Conversation asked scholars from countries where electoral fraud has happened, from Kazakhstan to Mexico, to explain what a rigged election really looks like.


Kazakhstan is a long way from the centre of the global politics. It is largely known for British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s Kazakhstani alter-ego, Borat, as well as the vast amounts of oil it produces, or perhaps its nuclear weapons withdrawal in the 1990s.

But there is a connection between the Republican nominee and the Central Asian oil state: the Financial Times has published an investigation into links between ex-officials of Kazakhstan and the building of Trump Tower.

Kazakhstan does hold elections: to local authorities, to the lower chamber, to the parliament and to the presidency. In theory, we are not an absolute kingdom or khanate. At least not yet.

But the elections that take place are often rigged. Elections are held not to provide the people with representatives, but to create a façade of democracy for the West. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe regularly observes elections in Kazakhstan, and its reports are damning. In their assessment of the 2015 presidential election, observers stated:

Serious procedural deficiencies and irregularities were observed throughout the voting, counting and tabulation processes, including indications of ballot box stuffing.
As a result, the ruling party, Nur Otan, won 81% of the parliamentary vote in 2016, and President Nursultan Nazarbayev won with 97.7% of the vote in the 2016 presidential election.

The current president doesn’t participate in TV debates. The constitution, meanwhile, conveniently states that presidents can only serve two terms – except the first president. Nazarbayev has been in power since 1989, and was elected the country’s first president following Kazakh independence in 1991.

In addition to fraud on election day, parliaments are often dissolved or declare voluntary dissolution.

There is no doubt that the people of Kazakhstan have lost trust in the electoral system. But still we have hopes for honest elections in the future.