People stand in a long line to vote in Smiths Station, Alabama, on Nov. 8. (Todd J. Van Emst/Opelika-Auburn News via AP)

People stand in a long line to vote in Smiths Station, Alabama, on Nov. 8. (Todd J. Van Emst/Opelika-Auburn News via AP)

Presidential election may not be rigged, but it sure is a mess

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump frequently said the United States was becoming a “Third World country.”

While many may have found that statement offensive (except in Detroit, where it was a compliment), one aspect of our political system is proving him right: our presidential elections.

Among the highlights this year: Russian meddling; voter suppression efforts, both legal and extralegal; mysterious computerized voting systems with outdated, vulnerable software and no paper trails; logistically questionable recount bids; the leader by a 2.7 million-vote margin losing; and the winner claiming, without evidence, that millions of people voted illegally.

It’s almost enough to make a North Korean election look legit by comparison, and Kim Jong-un won the last one with 100 percent of the vote.

In our latest poll at, we asked for your level of confidence in the U.S. presidential election results. The vote*:

• 59 percent were very confident.

• 19 percent were somewhat confident.

• 22 percent said “it was rigged,” so we’ll take that as a vote of no confidence.

* Note: You really shouldn’t have much confidence in unscientific internet polls.

If less than two-thirds have complete faith in our presidential election, it’s a sorry state of affairs, but I’d be willing to bet confidence is higher in our state and local elections. Washington’s vote-by-mail system is super-convenient and leaves a paper record in case someone calls shenanigans. Sure, it’s possible that some of us will delegate the responsibility to our spouses or elementary schoolers, but overall it tends to thwart any organized efforts to rig the vote.

Our system runs so well that you’d think every state would adopt it, but only Oregon and Colorado have so far. Changing the system requires political courage among elected officials – a leap of faith that they’d still be in office without the same tactics that got them elected in the first place.

In other words, we’ll do this all again in 2020.

Doug Parry,; @parryracer.

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