What’s the weirdest factor you discovered this week? Nicely, no matter it’s, we promise you’ll have a good weirder reply in case you take heed to newsonthecloud’s hit podcast. The Weirdest Factor I Discovered This Week hits Apple, Anchor, and all over the place else you take heed to podcasts every-other Wednesday morning. It’s your new favourite source for the strangest science-adjacent info, figures, and Wikipedia spirals the editors of Well-liked Science can muster. In case you just like the tales on this submit, we assure you’ll love the present.
This week’s episode is all about voting, elections, democracy, and beer-guzzling goat mayors. Don’t fear—you received’t discover any hectic information or coverage debates in right here. Take a break from interested by the election by studying concerning the weirdest, silliest, and most stunning tales we may discover from political historical past.
And whenever you’re accomplished listening, be certain to vote! Listed here are methods to assist the election even in case you’re not eligible to forged a poll.
FACT: Essentially the most rigged election on document featured a whole lot of 1000’s of pretend votes
By Sara Chodosh
In case you assume the 2020 elections are fraught, simply wait till you hear concerning the 1927 presidential elections in Liberia. Incumbent President Charles D.B. King received in a landslide of 234,000 to 9,000—regardless of there solely being 15,000 eligible voters within the nation on the time. The Guinness E-book of World Data acknowledges the rigged occasion as probably the most quantitatively fraudulent election in recorded historical past.
Maybe extra fascinating than the straight-up fraud perpetrated by King and his cronies is the historical past of your entire nation of Liberia. I personally knew nothing about it till I turned buddies with a neighborhood, and I’d wager most Individuals don’t know something about it both, regardless of its deep ties to the US.
Liberia is Africa’s first and oldest trendy republic, having been based by freed Black folks coming from the US within the early- to mid-1800s. A few of them had been looking for a life freed from prosecution, although many within the US seen this repatriation as a practical approach to keep away from slave rebellions, which is a much less rosy motivation. As you would possibly count on from contributors in a 19th-century train in American colonialism, the founders of Liberia had little curiosity within the wants or wishes of the realm’s indigenous peoples. Along with battle with native tribes, the settlers confronted harsh climates, scarce meals, poor infrastructure, and excessive incidents of illness that gave the territory a record-breaking mortality charge.
However regardless of its troubles (and its ongoing corruption points), Liberia additionally deserves lots of recognition. The nation gained independence a full 100 years earlier than many of the remainder of the continent, and have been electing their very own leaders ever since—together with the primary feminine head of state in Africa.
FACT: Gerrymandering is known as after an enormous cartoon salamander
By Purbita Saha
Depart it to Massachusetts to be the birthplace of democracy and a deathbed for it, too. In 1812, then-governor Eldridge Gerry handed a regulation that will redraw the state’s voting districts to tip them in his celebration’s favor.
The Boston Gazette mocked the ensuing map, and wrote that it regarded like a reared-up dragon or a salamander (simply in case a dragon was an excessive amount of of a stretch of the creativeness). The paper additionally got here up with the portmanteau “gerrymander,” sealing the governor’s legacy in a standard disenfranchisement tactic that also continues centuries later.
Voting districts ought to change with the occasions, after all, however solely when there’s essential knowledge—which regularly from government-run censuses—to again up the brand new inhabitants maps.
FACT: A canine can run for mayor, however not for president
Lucy Lou was the primary feminine mayor of Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, and ran on the marketing campaign slogan “the b—- you’ll be able to rely on.” She was additionally a border collie. Her political sights didn’t finish with mayorship, nevertheless. She additionally made a bid for president forward of the 2016 election.
Mayor Lou was hardly alone: A number of non-human candidates have run for—and been elected to—workplace. However Lou by no means truly had a shot on the White Home, as a result of all of the animal mayors within the US maintain purely ceremonial workplace. Unincorporated cities and communities like Rabbit Hash don’t technically have their very own mayor—they’re ruled as a part of some bigger group like a township or county. Many of those locations nonetheless grant somebody the title as a ceremonial place, and it’s change into widespread for the “elections” to boost cash for native charities or group initiatives. That’s how we’ve ended up with cats, canine, goats, and different critters as “mayors” throughout America.
Non-human animals aren’t the one uncommon politicians born out of those ersatz elections. One Minnesota tyke served for 2 phrases earlier than getting ousted on the age of 5. Right here’s Bobby Tuft reflecting on his time in workplace, throughout which he appears to have been below the impression that mayors can’t be arrested:
FACT: Some states have really weird methods of breaking tied elections
Good MCs of household sport nights all the time have to arrange to deal with a tumultuous tiebreaker. Because it seems, election officers do the identical—and in surprisingly related methods.
America has a protracted historical past of breaking election ties utilizing random probability. In 2018, Virginia Republican David Yancey received a Home of Delegates seat when officers drew his identify out of a blue and white stoneware bowl, ending a tie and giving his celebration management of the home. And in 2014, in line with the Orlando Sentinel, the Mount Dora Metropolis Council race was determined when the town clerk drew a candidate’s identify out of a felt high hat. Different votes have been referred to as by coin flips and ping pong ball drawings—lottery model.
Breaking a tie on this haphazard style doesn’t cease on the native stage. Within the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore beat George W. Bush in New Mexico by simply 366 votes. But when it had been a tie, state regulation says that the winner would have been determined by a sport of probability, reminiscent of a single hand of poker. (Whether or not or not poker is truly a sport of probability is a matter of a lot debate, to not point out no less than one lawsuit, so let’s hope New Mexico by no means opens up that may of semantic worms on a nationwide election.)
In case you like The Weirdest Factor I Discovered This Week, please subscribe, charge, and overview us on Apple Podcasts. You may also be a part of within the weirdness in our Fb group and bedeck your self in Weirdo merchandise (together with face masks!) from our Threadless store.