This week, we start with a puzzling paradox: there are more elections than ever before, and yet the world is becoming less democratic. How can that be?

Well, it starts to make sense when you realize that most elections around the world are rigged in one way or another. 

But when you study election rigging, you quickly realize that there are amateurs and there are pros, the minor league despots and the major league dictators.

So, what’s the best way to rig an election?

This episode looks at several different wild and weird stories from around the globe: a cult in Oregon that poisoned people in the hopes of winning a county-level election; an election that was rigged with disappearing ink; others in which birth certificates were used as a tool of manipulation; and finally, a look at election rigging in the United States.

This episode features Ma Anand Sheela, of the Rajneeshi cult; Barry Sheldahl, a former prosecutor in the state of Oregon; Professor Nic Cheeseman, an expert on election rigging and a co-author (with Brian Klaas) of the book “How to Rig an Election”; Dr. Leyia Aliyeva of St. Antony’s College, Oxford University; and Professor Sam Wang and Will Adler of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project at Princeton University. 

Executive Producer: George McDonagh

Sound editing for this episode was done by Alex Portfelix.