If a Third World Election Was This Close

A Zimbabwe politician has been quoted as saying that children should study the U.S. Presidential Election closely, for it shows that election fraud is not only a phenomenon of the developing world...

1. Imagine that we read of an election occurring anywhere in the third world in which the self-declared winner was the son of the former prime minister, and that former prime minister was himself the former head of that nation's secret police (CIA).

2. Imagine that the self-declared winner lost the popular vote but won based on some old colonial holdover (electoral college) from the nation's pre-democracy past.

3. Imagine that the self-declared winner's "victory" turned on disputed votes cast in a province governed by his brother!

4. Imagine that the poorly drafted ballots of one district (a district heavily favoring the self-declared winner's opponent) led thousands of voters to vote for the wrong candidate.

5. Imagine that members of that nation's most despised caste, fearing for their lives/livelihoods, turned out in record numbers to vote in near-universal opposition to the self-declared winner's candidacy.

6. Imagine that hundreds of members of that most-despised caste were intercepted on their way to the polls by state police operating under the authority of the self-declared winner's brother.

7. Imagine that six million people voted in the disputed province and that the self-declared winner's "lead" was only 327 votes. Fewer, certainly, than the vote counting machines' margin of error.

8. Imagine that the self-declared winner and his political party opposed a more careful by-hand inspection and re-counting of the ballots in the disputed province or in its most hotly disputed district.

9. Imagine that the self-declared winner, himself a governor of a major province, had the worst human rights record of any province in his nation and actually led the nation in executions.

10. Imagine that a major campaign promise of the self-declared winner was to appoint like-minded human rights violators to lifetime positions on the high court of that nation.

None of us would deem such an election to be representative of anything other than the self-declared winner's will-to-power. All of us, I imagine, would wearily turn the page, thinking that it was another sad tale of pitiful pre- or anti-democracy peoples in some strange country elsewhere.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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