Sometimes we Americans can become quite annoyed by the lack of performance of our elected officials. However, in these first cases, you could say that these politicians were “dead in their tracks”.
In 1868, Thaddeus Stevens a very popular Republican congressional candidate from Pennsylvania, died at the age of seventy six. Because he was so loved and respected by his peers, his party decided to nominate him for the House of Representatives anyway as a belated tribute to “our most able and distinguished champion of justice.” No one of course expected him to win, however, his corpse was elected with a large majority vote over his Democratic rival eight weeks later. Hmmm, I wonder how he made his acceptance speech.
More recently, in 1975, Frank O’Donnell of Philadelphia was elected to serve on the city council despite his death from a heart attack a week before election day. A spokesperson explained the situation by stating “It seemed appropriate to remove his name from the ballot, but there just wasn’t enough time.
Texas Democrat John Wilson was elected to the Senate in 1982, with sixty six percent of the vote. He had already been dead for two months before the election. The spokesperson for the election board in Texas explained the unusual situation by saying that his hame could not be removed from the ballot sheet for “technical reasons”.
To add to this trend of dead politicians, I have to mention Frank Ogden III. In 1990, Ogden was elected in a surprising landslide victory in Oklahoma, soundly defeating his opponent Josh Evans. Evans, the loser was disconsolate. He was convinced that his campaign slogan describing Evans as an “able lawyer and a living person” would give him a certain victory over Ogden, who had died three months before polling day.
Charles King who was the incumbent president of Liberia in 1928, enjoyed a landslide victory over this rival, Thomas Faulkner by more than 600,000 votes. The size of the victory came as quite a surprise due to the fact that at the time, Liberia only had about 15,000 registered voters.
“Papa Doc” Duvalier, who was president of Haiti, became very creative. When his countrymen went to the polls, they were handed a ballot which had the words “Doctor Francois Duvalier, President” printed at the top of the page. When the votes were counted, it was announced the Papa Doc had been reelected unanimously “because his name appeared on every ballot. A few years later, he used a similar tactic to prolong his stay in office indefinitely. In this election, Haitian voters were asked “Do you want your president elected for life?” The answer was a convenient and overwhelming “yes” because to ballot did not include a “no” box.
While these stories are truly surprising, this next example turned deadly. In 1981, Saddam Hussein’s was with Iran was going badly. With morale at dangerously low levels, he called a meeting of this cabinet minister and offered his resignation. Most of them took the hint and voted for him to remain in office. Unfortuntely, his Health Minister alone took him up on his offer and voted that Saddam step down. Saddam promptly took him in the next room and shot him in the head, and sent his butchered remains home to his wife in a shopping bag.