25 Little-Known Facts About US Elections That Will Probably Surprise You
Most of us with a TV or internet connection are aware that it’s an election year, and that it will m...
Most of us with a TV or internet connection are aware that it’s an election year, and that it will most likely come down to Red vs. Blue on election night in November. We’re also probably all aware of what our aunts, best friends, coworkers, favorite actors, and parents think about the Red or Blue Candidate, the people who support them, and how the election will play out. If you’re looking for something new to bring to the table without taking a side, here are 25 Little-Known Facts About US Elections That Will Probably Surprise You.
Feature Image: Elliott Stallion via upsplash.com
The last Third Party president to be elected was Abraham Lincoln in 1860. So the next time someone tells you a Third Party vote is a wasted vote, you can ask them if they've heard of Abraham Lincoln.
Ronald Reagan won 49 out of 50 states In the 1984 Presidential Election against Walter Mondale. The only state Mondale won was Minnesota, his home state.
The first woman to run for president was Victoria Woodhull, who ran in 1872 with the Equal Rights Party. She was a very controversial figure for her time, not only because of her outspoken activism on behalf of women's suffrage, but because of her many known affairs, some with members of the clergy.
Astronauts vote via secure email on a Harris County, Texas ballot, as most astronauts live near ground control in Houston.
A third party candidate needs to reach 15% in national polls to be included in the televised debates with the Republican and Democratic candidates. The last candidate to do this was Ross Perot in 1992, who participated in debates with President George Bush Sr. and then Governor of Arkansas Bill Clinton.
The first televised debate was in 1960 between John F Kennedy and Richard M Nixon. John Kennedy would go on to win the election and become the 35th President of the United States.
In Florida, Kentucky, and Iowa, anyone with a Felony conviction is permanently banned from voting. In Vermont and Maine, everyone of legal age is allowed to vote, regardless of criminal history (those currently serving time may vote via absentee ballot). Other states vary between these two extremes, some depending on what crime was committed, some allowing those on parole to vote, others allowing those no longer in prison or on parole to vote.
Women were never prohibited from voting in the Constitution. However, many states chose not to allow women to vote. In 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was passed, stating that no state could deny someone a vote based on their sex.
Martin Van Buren was elected the 8th President of the United States. He was the first President to be born in an independent United States, as the seven previous presidents had been born subjects of the British Crown. His win was the third in a row for the Democratic party, and the first time the US elected two different Democratic Party presidents in a row. The last time this happened was in the 1960's, when Lyndon B Johnson took over the presidency after John Kennedy was assassinated, and then won the election of 1964 in his own right.
One of the first records we have of a woman seeking a voice in elections were Abigail Adam's letters to her husband John Adams in 1776. She asked him to "Not put such unlimited power in the hands of husbands." He replied, "We have only the name of masters, and rather than give up this, which would completely subject us to the despotism of the petticoat, I hope General Washington and all our brave heroes would fight."
When you vote, you don't vote directly for the President; you're voting to pick your state's Electoral College, who have pledged, but are not legally bound, to vote for the candidate you selected on your ballot. Their votes are the ones that actually select the next President Of The United States. When people talk about Electoral votes during the election season, or tally them on election night, the votes of this group of people, The Electoral College, are what they're talking about. Each state gets Electors based on population.
There have been four elections in US history where a nominee has lost the popular vote (individual votes) but won the overall Election: John Quincy Adams in 1824, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888, and George W Bush in 2000.
In 23 states and the District of Colombia, a 17 year old may vote in the Primary election (the vote that selects each major party's candidate) if they turn 18 before the day of the General Election in November.
A "Faithless Elector" is an elected member of the Electoral College who does not vote for their party's designated candidate. So far, there have been 157 of these Faithless Elector's since the founding of the Electoral College.
In 2000, the entire presidential election came down to Florida, and after weeks of recounts, the State of Florida - and it's electoral votes, and therefore the Presidency - was declared for George W Bush by a mere 537 votes.
Only Nebraska and Maine split their Electoral College vote according to the popular vote for the state. The rest of the states and the District of Colombia are winner take all.
The Democratic Party uses a donkey as it's mascot because one of it's most famous members, Andrew Jackson, was called a Jackass by his critics during the election of 1828. He decided to run with it, and the donkey, or "ass," became the symbol of the party.
We vote on Tuesday because of farmers. Back in the mid 1800's when the majority of Americans were farmers and church goers, and all travel was done by horse and buggy, logistics made things a bit tricky. Sunday was a day of worship, and Wednesday was market day, so Tuesday was picked because it would give voters Monday to travel to their county seat, early Tuesday to vote, and be home in time for market on Wednesday. Recently there have been pushes to make election day a national holiday to help increase voter turnout.
The 2012 election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney saw over $2 billion spent between the two candidates, once money spent by independent organizations supporting them is factored in. This made it the most costly US election to date, averaging out to almost $16 per vote cast.
There have only been two US elections where a candidate won 100% of the Electoral College votes, and those were the first two. In 1789, running against John Adams, George Washington was unanimously elected by the Electoral College. In 1792, Washington ran unopposed, but the Electoral College still voted, giving him 100% of the votes.
Actress Rosanne Barr ran for President in 2012 under the Freedom And Peace Party banner (their tagline reads: "California's Feminist Socialist Political Party"), and actually came in 6th with just under 50,000 votes.
A candidate needs a minimum of 270 of the available 538 electoral votes to win the presidency. If that does not happen, either due to an even split or a third party candidate taking enough of the votes that no one reaches 270, the vote then goes to Congress, with the House of Representatives picking the President and the Senate picking the Vice President via voting. Each state chooses one representative to vote.
Nationwide voter turnout for the 2012 election was 57.5%. Even though Obama beat Romney by a significant margin, and won both the popular and the electoral vote, the difference in the popular vote was around 5 million. So while people can make educated guesses based on the votes that were cast, polls, etc, the honest truth is we still have no idea what would have happened if even 90% of eligible voters had made it to the polls since the difference in the popular vote was only around 5 million votes. The number of voters that didn't show up to the polls? Over 90 million.