Friday, November 2, 2012

Fun Friday Facts #49: Voting Edition

Voting is important. I know a lot of you out there are all “Politicians are all liars waah waah waah Both parties are exactly like each other waah waah waah Intrusive government waah waah waah Lesser of two evils waah waah waah The two-party system is monopolistic waah waah waah This isn’t a democracy anyway waaaaaah My vote doesn’t count waaaaaaaaaaaaah.” This bothers me because I don’t usually hear it from educated or insightful people, if you know what I mean. Your third-party candidates are probably insane. Even if they aren’t insane, they’re not going to lead us all down the Road to World Peace, Cheap Solar Power, and Boundless Happiness, which happens to be paved with lollipops, so don’t wear your good shoes. They’re going to face the same challenges as any other leader, one of which might well be fighting the entire Congress instead of just half of it.

Besides, I don’t agree. This country has a lot of problems, but it’s the one we’ve got, so unless you’re going to move to another one, you’d better be prepared to fix it. I’m not sure what you think you’re going to accomplish by sitting around spouting some half-educated cynical bullshit. (Unless you’re “not voting as a form of protest,” in which case, good luck with that). Plenty of people don’t get to vote, so bitching about getting to is like bitching about how hard it is to have parents who love you. Quit being a brat.

If this guy can vote with the stubs of his arms, you can do it with your privileged American fingers, dammit. ~ Source

1) Every election year we hear a bunch of “facts” tossed around about how one vote really can make a difference! The following “one vote” facts are FALSE:

  • Adolf Hilter won control of the Nazi Party by one vote in 1923. NOT. (And also, Hitler took control of the Nazi Party in 1921).
  • Oliver Cromwell gained control of England in 1645 by one vote. NOT.
  • America adopted English over German as its official language by one vote in 1776. NOT.
  • Charles I of England was executed due to one vote in 1649. NOT.
  • Texas entered the union because of one vote in 1845. NOT.
  • France transformed from a monarchy into a republic in 1875, because of one vote. NOT.
  • One vote rescued the Selective Service in 1941, mere weeks before the Pearl Harbor attacks. NOT.

There’s a story going around about JFK winning the election in 1960 by a margin of one vote per precinct, and while it’s true that the election was exceptionally close that year, it’s also true that both sides were cheating their asses off, so that kind of invalidates the whole thing.

2) Here are some “one vote” stories that are true:

  • In 1839, Marcus Morton was elected governor of the state of Massachusetts by exactly one vote. The count was 51,034 to 51,033.
  • In January 1961, the Afro-Shirazi Party won the general elections of Zanzibar by one seat, when a single vote won them the seat of Chake-Chake on Pemba Island. That counts, even though it’s not America.


3) If you’ve been paying attention over the past couple of years, you’ve noticed that some people in other parts of the world are literally dying for the right to vote. Some people still can’t vote. In the following countries, women (and some men) can’t vote:

  • Vatican City, which only sort of technically counts, as far as I’m concerned, because come on, it’s like two blocks. It’s a theocracy, ruled by Pope Gremlin the Umpteenth, and the only time any voting goes on here is when he dies or returns to his home planet or whatever. Only cardinals can vote for the Pope, and women can’t be cardinals, so there you go.
  • Seriously though, women can’t vote in Saudia Arabia either. No lady votes whatsoever. They can’t run for office either. They can’t even drive
  • King Abdullah has apparently assured the women of Saudia Arabia that they will be able to vote and run for municipal office in 2015. I guess we’ll see.
  • No one is allowed to vote for national leaders in Brunei. It is a monarchy ruled by a sultan, and does not have national elections. People (presumably women too) are allowed to elect municipal leaders.
  • Citizens of the United Arab Emirates are not allowed to vote in national elections, but about 12% of them were permitted to vote for a national advisory council in 2011. The criteria for eligibility remain unpublished. About 28% of eligible voters actually participated.

4) Franceville, a short-lived commune in the New Hebrides, was the first nation to grant the right to vote to all of its citizens, regardless of their gender or race. The nation of Franceville started out as a colony in declared neutral territory. It consisted of about 500 native citizens and about 50 British and French citizens. Their neutral status meant that they didn’t have a local government, which deeply inconvenienced the residents, so they declared themselves independent in August 1889. By June 1890, they were again under the control of an Anglo-French naval commission.

Can't have that tiny colony governing itself, no sir.

5) New Zealand was the first currently extant country to give women the vote, in 1893 (as all of my Kiwi friends have reminded me about a bajillion times). Australian women received the right to vote in 1902. The first European country to grant women the vote was Finland, in 1906. Finland also gave the world the first female Parliament members, in 1907. The most recent country to give women the vote was Bhutan, in 2008.

6) The idea of democracy as we know it today dates back to ancient Athens, in which only adult men who had finished military training were allowed to vote. About 20% of the Athenians were allowed to participate in government in this way. Women, slaves, freed slaves and resident aliens did not have voting rights. Though there was no property ownership requirement for voters in ancient Athens, Athenians could have their suffrage rights taken away if they, or their forebears, had failed to pay debts or fines to the city.