The use of Social Engineering and other forms of skulduggery to win elections.
Old European trick: Form an "athletic club" in your political party. This is really a gang of thugs you can use to intimidate and kill the opposition. For best effect silence or tame the media first. With a bit of luck all the die hard opposition will be dead or in hospital by the time the election draws near.
(Possible) African alternate form: Just arrest the campaigners from rival parties at strategic points in the campaign. It doesn't matter if the charges stick - the main thing is that they are in jail when they need to be campaigning.
Original American form: Adjust borders between districts to influence where people's votes will be counted.
Make it as difficult as possible for people to vote in your weakest areas. (Don't tell people where the polls will be, and reduce the overall number of polling stations.) [Mugabe et al 2002]
One-Party System (Soviet-style). Have elections with only one candidate on the ballot. You get the appearance of democracy without any of its nasty complications. (recent example: Iraq, 2002-Oct-15 elections http://i-cias.com/e.o/sad_huss.htm )
Form parties with names almost but not exactly like your opposition to split their vote.
Pay people to vote the way you want them to (US,Japan)
Tell each group you speak to exactly what they want to hear.
Directly state that you are being elected on one policy when you follow the opposite.
George W Bush pacifying some Republicans who were concerned about the environment by saying that he would ratify the Koyoto treaty. A few days after being elected he announced that he had no intention of doing it.
Bill Clinton and his statement about his being the 'most ethical administration in the history of the Republic'.
Make sure you get lots of pork-barrel money given to your state, often by attaching the clauses to bills that otherwise have no connection (US, others I'm sure)
Tell people the vote is not secret, and if you vote the wrong way, someone will break their legs (Zimbabwe, again)
Make ballots which leave no doubt on how you are expected to vote. Below is an example out of the Third Reich
[Offline as of 2004-01-13 -- is there a example somewhere else ?]
Miscount, invalidate and lose incorrect ballots. The oldest, most straightforward method, used practically everywhere from time to time. (Surprised it isn't listed above).
Confiscate guns and other weapons from the populace so that the ruling party has all the weaponry. This removes from the populace the best tool by which corrupt elections can be overturned.
examples of where an armed populace has successfully overthrown the result of a corrupt election?
this is a popular myth in the US. Reality is rarely that simple.
Indeed. There are more examples of an unarmed populace doing this (Phillipines, Czechoslovakia, Madacascar).
Feel free to add other tried and tested engineering techniques.
Perhaps the most effective of all:
Make people believe that their vote doesn't count, or that it's not really important to vote.
See if you can get at least 50 percent of the registered voters convinced in this regard!
Conspire with a second party of similar views to "share the world" between you in turns, collectively crushing any possible third choice thus giving voters the illusion of choice without the practical reality of choice.
Sound vaguely like some country you know about?
have your political parties split up into so many factions that any majority is a fragile coalition that fragments at the slightest whiff of scandal. Let the bureaucracy run things as every politician is busy campaigning.
Find large numbers of people who do not have the right to vote. Convince them that your party is the only one that "really cares" for them by giving them the right to vote. Works best if the group is a bunch of ignorant fools who will believe anything you say.