Best of Slow Journalism: How to Hack an Election

Photo: AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

Photo: AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

On the night Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto was elected to power in July 2012, Andrés Sepúlveda sat before six computer screens, waiting for the official declaration confirming the election result. When it came in, he went about systematically destroying evidence. “He drilled holes in flash drives, hard drives, and cell phones, fried their circuits in a microwave, then broke them to shards with a hammer…

“He was dismantling what he says was a secret history of one of the dirtiest Latin American campaigns in recent memory.”

Now Sepúlveda spends his nights with a bulletproof blanket and vest by his side. Guards check on him once an hour through bombproof doors.

In ‘How to Hack an Election’, published in Bloomberg Businessweek, Jordan Robertson, Michael Riley and Andrew Willis field Sepúlveda’s astounding confessions. Now a government witness after cutting a plea deal, he reveals nearly a decade of “dirty war and psychological operations, black propaganda, rumors—the whole dark side of politics that nobody knows exists but everyone can see.”

Since 2005, Sepúlveda claims he worked as a hacker for hire in election campaigns in Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Venezuela and Colombia. In 2012 he was arrested in Colombia while surreptitiously campaigning against Juan Manuel Santos.

“I have always said that there are two types of politics—what people see and what really makes things happen,” he says.

‘How to Hack an Election’ is a gripping read, as alarming as it is revealing and likely as relevant as ever. You can read it here.

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