It is a fundamental right of all human beings to gather together and make ridiculous decisions. This list of election facts is offered as proof that, while individual humans can sometimes be creative, groups of humans are guaranteed to be bizarre.
- How often do you think non-human animals hold public office or stand as candidates in elections? Whatever your answer was, I guarantee it is an underestimate. There's a great -- and extremely incomplete -- list here.
- A truly incredible electoral system was used to select Doge of Venice from 1268 until 1797. 38 electors were chosen randomly, who were reduced to 9, who chose 40, who were reduced randomly to 12, who chose 25, who were reduced randomly to 9, who elected 45, who were reduced randomly to 11, who chose 41, who formed the actual electorate to choose the Doge. I know of at least 3 papers that formally analyse this amazing ruleset.
- One of the all-time greatest election shenanigans was performed by US Congressman Phil Gramm. He was elected as a Democrat to the US House of Representatives in 1978, but his status as one of the most conservative Democrats cost him a coveted position on the House Budget Committee which the party leaders had the power to appoint. Annoyed by this, Gramm resigned from the House and switched to the Republican Party. His resignation triggered a special election to replace him, which Gramm ran in -- now as a Republican -- and won! This story makes more sense when you observe that Phil Gramm is an economist.
- Another superb maneuver was pulled by Chuck Cadman. Cadman was a Member of Canada's Parliament for the right-wing Canadian Alliance party. His goose appeared to be cooked when he lost a re-nomination race in his riding, but he went on to win the election even without his party's nomination. This proved fateful when Cadman turned out to hold the deciding vote in a non-confidence motion against the Liberal government, supported by the (left-wing) New Democratic Party and opposed by the (right-wing) Conservative Party -- and he cast his vote in favour of the left-wing government, single-handedly saving it from collapse! Cadman passed away a month and a half later, and his wife Dona Cadman endorsed a member of the New Democratic Party to succeed him. However, only one election later, Dona Cadman joined the Conservative Party and won Chuck Cadman's seat back for the conservatives.
- How many different presidents and prime ministers can a sovereign autonomous state have at the same time? In early 2020, Guinea-Bisseau managed 2 of each -- 2 presidents and 2 prime ministers, simultaneously!
- You don't get much better than a guy named Bossy who literally sold manure for a living before becoming a politician.
- University College Dublin is not just the name of Ireland's oldest university: it is also the name of an electoral constituency that consists only of that University and elects THREE of the 60 senators to the Upper House of the Irish legislature! Imagine if Harvard had 5 seats in the US Senate ...
- Running for political office is an exciting time to change your legal name to gain an advantage. One idea is to simply insert your main platform plank as a new middle name, like Byron (Low Tax) Looper did. Another well-trod path is tricking minority groups into thinking you're one of them: Shannon P. O'Malley was named Phillip Spiwak until an electoral loss made him take seriously a study showing that people with Irish names did better in Chicago elections -- in addition to changing his name he also switched parties, and he won a judicial seat. Another way to win a judicial seat, of course, is to simply change your name to "Judge". Or, when you are running in a district where a lot of people speak a language that you don't, you could always claim that "Michael" translates to "Correct and Fair" (although I would vote for any candidate who, like Correct and Fair's opponent, declared the name Australia Horse). Or cut to the chase, get a big group of friends together, name yourself after a bunch of incumbents, and hope that people vote for you out of sheer confusion.
- Some candidates are lucky and don't even need to change their names: this was the case for Maxime Bernier, Rhinoceros Party candidate, who ran against Maxime Bernier, leader and founder of the People's Party of Canada, specifically to drain the more famous Bernier's votes.
- Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej of Thailand was forced by the country's judiciary to resign (ostensibly) because he hosted four television cooking shows. He had been a host of the show "Tasting, Grumbling" for eight years while serving as the governor of Bangkok without incident, but the four shows he hosted after becoming Prime Minister included accepting about 350 dollars for transportation, which was ruled to be an illegal payment to a public official.
This page was last modified on 23 March 2020