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Quirky election trends from around the world

Did you know nearly 22 countries impose fines on citizens who do not vote? Here's a list of quirky poll trends from around the world.

, ET Bureau|
Mar 09, 2019, 11.00 PM IST
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If the Indian general elections are known for their surprises and controversies and new practices, polls in other parts of the world too have their share of quirks:

Dropping Marbles
In the Gambia, voters drop marbles into colour-coded drums to indicate their choice of candidates. The drums have bells that ring when a marble is dropped. So in case someone drops two instead of one, the mistake is detected immediately. The exotic practice may not last as reports suggest the West African country is trying to move to paper ballots.

Tuesdays & Thursdays
The US votes on Tuesdays while it is Mondays for Canada and Thursdays for the UK. Elections are held on Tuesdays in the US chosen so as not to interfere with Biblical Sabbath (on Sundays) or farmers’ markets (on Wednesdays).However, UK chose Thursdays for polls since as was market day. Since people would come to the markets anyways, voting would be easier.

Didn’t Vote? Pay a Fine
Nearly 22 countries impose fines on citizens who choose not to vote. Australia, for instance, levies a fine of 20 Australian dollars on people who skipped voting without a valid reason. If not paid, the fine goes up.

Rig It Like DB King
In 1927, Charles DB King swept the polls in the West African country with 234,000 votes while his opponent polled just 9,000. A landslide, only if you ignore the fact that Liberia then had only 15,000 registered voters.

Teen Voters
Some countries such as Brazil allow their citizens to vote when they turn 16 years old. So do Austria, Nicaragua and Argentina. In Indonesia and Sudan, the voting eligibility age is 17.

Click to Vote
Estonia bordering Russia institutionalised online voting in 2005. It involves sophisticated digital voter ID cards with e-signatures. Newer voter cards have biometrics too. Many US states also have a system of email voting for their overseas citizens and soldiers.

Hanging, Dimpled & Pregnant Chads
The term ‘chad’ made news when George W Bush narrowly defeated Al Gore in the 2000 US Presidential elections. At the centre of the row were round paper pieces, or chads, that were cut out when voters punched holes through ballot papers. However, in Florida, the chads were not neatly separated, forming a ‘hanging chad’, and machines could not count the votes correctly. Even a light push resulted in a dimpled area, leading to the term ‘dimpled’ or ‘pregnant chads’. It was an evidence of vote but could only be spotted with human eyes, not with machines.

As Strange as it Gets
  • In 1758, George Washington spent his entire campaign budget of 50 pounds to buy liquor for voters.
  • In 1988 general elections in Mexico, all computers counting votes reportedly crashed while they showed opposition leading. After the reboot, the ruling party regained the lead.
  • A foot powder brand called Pulvapies won a 1967 mayoral election in Picoaza in Ecuador. Voters had to write the name of their preferred candidate on the ballot paper, and a majority picked Pulvapies, which had run an election-themed advertisement campaign.
Animals in Power
  • Whangamomona in New Zealand elected a goat called Billy Gumboot as town president in 1999.
  • Californian town Suno elected a black Labrador named Bosco as mayor in 1981.
  • Brazilians elected a rhinoceros named Cacareco with 10,000 votes to Sao Paolo council in 1959.
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