42 Million to One
A Political Thriller Inspired by Real Events
by Hal Malchow
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Pub Date 04 Aug 2020 | Archive Date 11 Dec 2020
Mindbuck Media, Double M Publishing
How Secure Are Our Elections?
It’s 2017. A cyber security conference hacks a suite of commonly used voting machines in a matter of hours, demonstrating the essential hardware’s vulnerability to attack.
Now, rewind to the past.
From 2004 to 2016, 305 elections were conducted with Republican candidates outperforming exit poll predictions by an average of 6 percentage points on election day.
What if you knew the chances of this happening were nearly impossible? What if you knew the chances of that happening were roughly 42 million to one?
42 Million to One is a political thriller about voting machine manipulation inspired by real electoral events. Lucy Gilmore, a young reporter, begins a journey to uncover proof that voting machines have been hacked and election outcomes have been altered. All at once, she discovers just how vulnerable our democracy has become. This eye-opening book speaks not just to voting machine corruption but the fragility of our democracy and why our struggle to govern effectively becomes more difficult every year.
“They say truth is stranger than fiction. But when fiction is this true, it’s the best of both worlds.  MILLION TO ONE is really gripping, really important (especially now), and really good.”
— Jonathan Simon, author of CODE RED: Computerized Elections and The War on American Democracy
“An important book that should interest every American concerned about protecting our democracy.”
—SENATOR MARK WARNER, VIRGINIA
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 5 members
Politics is known to have some strange bedfellows. This book has some insights into what goes on behind-the-scenes. The reader gets different perspectives of the happenings.
I enjoyed the story overall. The character I enjoyed most was the one who got caught up in the middle of events that he didn't even know were going on.
I appreciate NetGalley and Double M Publishing/Mindbuck Media providing me with an opportunity to read a galley copy of this book.
This book is an extremely poignant read as we encroach on what is likely to be an extremely messy U.S. Presidential election. While fictive, it is well-researched and includes accurate data from recent U.S. elections and a pointed summary of some of the more contested Presidential elections in recent U.S. history. A full five stars for topic, timeliness, and research into the glaring flaws that U.S. voters have tolerated in their elections for decades. The first third of this book outlines the argument through the meticulous work of an investigative journalist, and it's compelling.
The plot however, I found to be bland, cliche, and often boring. One star. You have an overweight computer programming nerd with a video game obsession who never gets laid and has no interest in politics whatsoever, but happens to program voting machines. He gets seduced by an eastern European woman (the most beautiful woman he could ever imagine) who talks him into fixing the election in her client's favor --she's just in it for the money. Her client, after extensive sourcing, turns out to be DR Congo, who is supporting the Democrat to protect their lucrative coltan mining. Only problem is that the programmer's boss has already asked him to fix it for the Republican. Then there is a Washington Post reporter who is digging around trying to prove that voting machines are being hacked.
This basic plot was submerged in moralistic politics that preached compromise without even getting close to why either party is so staunchly set in their values. I appreciated the single issue scoping to make the character development of Jeffrey Scott, the presidential candidate, clear, but of all the issues that could have been chosen, social security funding seemed an unfortunate choice. The two perspectives that required compromise were, on the Republican side, wanting people to have the freedom to invest their entitlement account in the stock market instead of U.S. Treasury bonds, and on the Democratic side, wanting to raise the social security wage base (and neither party wanting to raise the retirement age). So Scott does allow for the individual accounts and allowing citizens to elect to invest their entitlement in the market (which is a complete shift from the current defined benefit program that he doesn't even get into), and he then proposes a structure where people get more money based on when they retire (which we already do). Just would have liked to see a better issue or at least a better policy solution.
A little moralizing is fine, but the monologue at the end where Scott blames the American voter for not voting out corrupt politicians falls *completely* flat at the end of a novel about how votes are manipulated routinely to sway election results, with multiple asides about the influence of the Russians and big money/super PACs in marketing. While there are some points about congressmen not passing the Election Security Act and some cautionary notes about how this strategy could only be used to sway close elections, the overall message is that votes can't be trusted. But at least I appreciate that he doesn't advocate throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
Honestly, this is a book that reads like it's nonfiction packaged up for a broader audience to get the word out. And while I respect that, the execution is off. I would skip this novel, but sure would be interested in reading this guy's blog. Much thanks to NetGalley and Mindbuck Media for the eARC.
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