Corruption6: The United States should adopt Japan's uniform rules for the collection, handling, and counting of ballots which makes stealing an election on election night practically impossible.

Japan has a well-deserved reputation for political corruption. Politicians are regularly embroiled in scandals, and these scandals typically involve election activities (Carlson and Reed, 2018). Many politicians illegally raise and spend campaign funds. Often the raising of these funds, at least in past decades, involved kickbacks paid to politicians by companies that got government contracts (Johnson, 1995, 183-211; Woodall, 1993). Candidates spread money around in their districts prior to election day (Curtis, 1971,232-41). The ubiquity and notoriety of these actions help contribute to Japan’s low ranking, at least among industrialized democracies, on measures of the perception of corruption (Transparency International, 2019).' It also has led to reform movements, anti-corruption crusades, and new laws to reduce levels of corruption (Carlson, 2007).

Though these anti-corruption efforts have made progress, it still seems odd to hold up anything about Japanese elections, at least in the realm of electoral integrity, as an example to other countries. This potential confusion stems from a failure to distinguish between the actions of many politicians, which have been notoriously corrupt, and the actions of the electoral bureaucracy and the functioning of election rules, which have compiled an impressive record of election integrity in the collection, handling, and counting of ballots. It is these practices that provide an example to other countries, especially the United States. The United States could dramatically improve the integrity of its elections by following some of the rules that Japan uses in its elections.

For this analysis of Japanese rules on the collection, handling, and counting of ballots, I first define election night corruption and how it differs from corruption generally and more specific forms of electoral corruption. I then measure the frequency of occurrence of election night corruption in Japan, the United States, and Canada. This measurement is made possible by the special characteristics of election night corruption and the unique evidentiary trail that this form of corruption creates. 1 focus on Japan because its ballothandling practices make election night corruption practically impossible to do.

1 also analyze the United States because tales of stealing elections on election night are part of US electoral lore, and US ballot-handling practices have all the deficiencies that Japanese practices do not have. 1 include Canadian data as an additional reference point because Canada also has a long history of single-seat elections in which the incentive to alter ballots on election night in order to secure a victory for a specific candidate are as high as they are both in Japan and the United States. After reporting my results on the relative frequency of election night corruption in all three countries, I last examine Japan’s ballot-handling rules in order to create a model of best practices that could be used by any country hoping to reduce the potential for election night corruption or improve the integrity of the entire election process.

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