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Friday, 26 December 2014


The word 'Ballot’ is derived from the Greek word for ‘balls’. The Greeks dropped a white ball when they favoured a candidate, and a black when they were against. The term ‘blackballed’ comes from this too.

The word candidate comes from the Latin ‘candidatus’ meaning ‘one clad in white.’

George Washington's campaign distributed 160 US gallons (610 l) of alcoholic drink which were distributed gratis to 391 voters in the county on polling day at the 1758 Virginia House of Burgesses election. Washington won the election with more than 39-percent of the vote.

America’s first presidential election was held on January 7, 1789. Only white men who owned property were allowed to vote.

The electoral term “gerrymandering” stems from Elbridge Gerry, who as governor of Massachusetts in 1812, drew up irregular lines to favor the Jeffersonian Democrats. The word was used for the first time in the Boston Gazette as part of a political cartoon.on March 26, 1812. It depicted a strange animal with claws, wings and a dragon-like head satirizing the map of the oddly shaped district.

The first opinion poll was held in 1824 to predict a US presidential election. It said Andrew Jackson would beat John Quincy Adams. It was wrong.

Since 1845 US elections have been held every four years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Until 1856, only people owning property were allowed to vote in the US elections.

The landmark Ballot Act was passed on July 18, 1872, which introduced a secret ballot in British elections.

In the UK General Election of 1886, the vote at Ashton-under-Lyne was tied. It was resolved by the Returning Officer’s casting vote. This has not happened since then.

In the Southern states of America, during the first presidential campaign of William Jennings Bryan in 1892, candidates for elections would parade through the streets led by a band of musicians performing on a horse-drawn wagon. As a publicity stunt, a candidate would mount the wagon as it passed through his own constituency in an effort to woo voters. From this comes the phrase climbing the bandwagon.

The New Zealand General Election of November 28, 1893 was the world's first national election where women were allowed to vote.

Women in Britain aged over 30 voted for the first time in a general election on December 14, 1918. The UK general election of 1918 was called immediately after the Armistice with Germany which ended World War I, and  was the first general election to be held on a single day. The count did not take place until December 28th due to the time taken to transport votes from soldiers serving overseas.

The record for the longest count in an UK general election is held by Derbyshire North East - at the 1922 election the count took 18 and a quarter hours.

Former Liberian president Charles King won the 1927 election with 234,000 votes. At the time Liberia had the sum total of 15,000 registered voters. It is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most fraudulent election ever.

No one has stood for US President more often than Norman Mattoon Thomas (1884-1968) who stood six times for the Socialist Party of America. The 1928 campaign was the first of Thomas's six consecutive campaigns as the presidential nominee of the Socialist Party.

The last UK general election where any one party received an absolute majority of the votes cast was on October 27, 1931 when Stanley Baldwin's Conservatives polled 55.0 of the vote.

Stanley Baldwin

The smallest UK General Election majority ever was two votes, achieved by A. J. Flint in Ilkeston North in 1931.

The 22nd Amendment to the US Constitution states that, “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice.”  This was passed in 1947 after Franklin D Roosevelt had served four terms.

In the 1979 British Columbia provincial election, MLA Frank Calder was defeated by one vote. He later admitted that he and his wife had neglected to vote.

In 1984, New Zealand's Prime Minister Robert Muldoon got drunk and spontaneously called for a general election on national television, which he lost.

The Modaurichi assembly constituency in Tamil Nadu in 1996 had 1033 candidates. The ballot paper was in the form of a booklet.

At an election in the North Dakota town of Pillsbury in 2008, nobody turned out to vote.

The record for the most candidates standing in a UK parliamentary election was when 26 stood at the Haltemprice and Howden by-election in 2008.

The Bridgwater by-election of March 12, 1970 was the first election in the United Kingdom to be held after the voting age had been reduced from 21 to 18. The first under-21 year old to cast a vote was Susan Wallace.

The lowest ever turnout at a UK election was in 2012 when only 15 per cent of the population voted for their Police and Crime Commissioners.

American astronauts on the International Space Station can vote in their elections from orbit by secure email. American astronauts have been able to vote from space since 1997.

Voting in European elections is compulsory in Belgium, Cyprus, Greece and Luxembourg.

Australian federal elections have mandatory voting. Anyone who doesn’t faces a AU$20 fine.

Vatican City is the only country in the world in which women cannot vote.

It has been calculated that the cost of holding local elections in the UK means that each vote cast costs the state about £4.34.

Liquor sales in Alaska aren't allowed on Election Day until the polls close

In Kentucky, a tied election may be decided “by lot”, with coin, cards or straws but not by a duel.

North Korea holds an election every five years, but there's only one candidate listed on the ballot.

Voters in the Gambia vote by dropping marbles into bins with the candidates pictures on them.

In Indian elections no voter is expected to travel more than two kilometers to a polling station. This sees an entire team setting up a full station for a single voter in the Gir forest.

Sources, Daily Express, Daily Mail

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