Q. What made you decide to write a book about election fraud? It’s a dangerous, politically sensitive topic.
A. Outrage. The spread of misinformation during the 2016 Presidential Campaign made me angry. I wanted to explore the methods used by the internet trolls. I worry that our democracy is in danger and wanted to deal with the peril the best way a writer can – by telling a story.
Q. An effective misinformation campaign actually occurred in 2016, whereas the claims of fraud in 2020 are false. Aren’t you concerned that people might think that THREE PERCENT OF THE VOTE is a partisan argument?
A. It isn’t. Regardless of party, Americans must have fair elections. And regardless of party, foreign interference in American elections is intolerable. THREE PERCENT OF THE VOTE is speculative fiction about an invented hack that never happened – but could have. The exploit could have been committed by an unscrupulous candidate in either party. I had to pick one, and I gave him ties to a Russian regime, Putin’s, that routinely interferes in the democratic elections of NATO countries. There is a political slant to the book – it’s pro-democracy.
Q. Talk about your decision to make Barack Obama a character in the book.
A. If the events I wrote about had actually occurred, the President would necessarily have been informed. I made the Obama character part of the story because I needed someone who had the power to authorize the investigation and who was in a position to consider the constitutional ramifications of the exploit. It could only have been the President, whomever he may have been.
Q. Your book describes the way elections are run in one Pennsylvania Congressional District. Is the description accurate?
A. It’s a generalized description applicable to Districts that use voting machines without paper ballots. In 2016, such machines were used in about half the Districts nationwide. Between 2016 and 2020, many counties converted to machines that produce paper ballot records. The gerrymandered map of the District that was hacked is, however, accurate. Roy Landis, the cyber sleuth who is tasked with exposing the fraud, describes the outline of the District as appearing like “a pixelated Minnie Mouse with antlers kicking Goofy in the butt with her high-heeled shoe and sending him westward toward Harrisburg”.
Q. You paint an unflattering picture of politicians. Do you think you were fair?
A. One of the politicians in the story, the losing candidate, is a wonderful person. My sense is that the majority of politicians are more like her than the villain. I wrote her opponent as a despicable character with equally despicable henchmen. Both kinds of people are involved with politics, but only the bad ones consider election fraud. Since this was a book about election fraud, I wrote characters who were capable of committing it.
Q. At the end, you broaden the scope of the story to raise questions about the U.S. Constitution. Did it occur to you that such big-picture topics don’t belong in a story about the nitty gritty of elections?
A. It was the big picture that compelled me to write the book. I am a devout democrat (small d). I wrote the book because I care about the sanctity of elections. The reasons I care are the core of my American identity, my American values There are occasions, like the quadrennial General Elections, when the nitty gritty of elections only make sense in relation to the big picture.