There is no merit to the concept of large-scale voter fraud in America.
Voter fraud — It’s a much-discussed source of anxiety and skepticism from all sides, especially this year. Newly-inaugurated President Trump himself regularly asserts that the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election was rigged, stating that the news media rigged the popular vote, or that the final poll results were obscured by illegal voting.
I’m a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), so I’m familiar with fraud techniques and the exploits fraudsters can rely on to manipulate a system to their desired outcome.
National election polls? They’re not one of them.
Voter Fraud — Pretty Much Impossible
Let’s talk about why election manipulation is basically unachievable in practice. Elections are virtually impossible to manipulate on a large scale to produce any sort of real, tangible benefit for a variety of mostly structural reasons:
First, contrary to popular belief, the states — not the federal government — conduct the polls. That means if you were to successfully rig an election across the United States, you would have to do so within individual counties, within state governments, in multiple states… all without being detected.
Additionally, the circulating paranoia about “cyberattacks” (attempts to disrupt or otherwise affect polls via electronic methods) on polling machines actually defies basic logic about the machines themselves. Why? Because nearly all states do not connect their polling machines to the Internet.
In addition, we have exit polls to combat manipulation of intercepted votes. One would need to also hijack and manually synchronize data from thousands of these machines to evade detection. Here’s why — if you were going to rig an election without being detected, you would have to figure out some way to also rig the exit polls, because a strong mismatch would indicate manipulation of entries. The design of exit polls makes it next to impossible to manipulate votes on a large scale. Specifically, there are differences in how both sets of polls are administered to address this very concern in order to make it difficult for fraudsters to fabricate believable results on both ends. In other words, it would be essentially impossible to override both totally different data banks with different data security types, fabricate data in these two matching sets of votes before counters could get to them, synchronize both data sets, do this en masse across multiple swing states… and then walk away without either human or machine detecting something gone awry.
In a nutshell: The effectiveness of current election security boils down to two main features: decentralization of polls, and the structural safeguards of how polls are administered. Features like these make it unlikely that even the most crafty and motivated attempt to rig an election is completely doomed — so Americans can rest assured that it is next to impossible that the 2016 Presidential was “rigged”.