Monday, October 31, 2016

Improving American Elections

 
Is there a better way? Yes, there is. There are more than 100 democracies in the world, so maybe a few of them have some tips on how the United States might improve its elections next time around.
Here’s a look at seven ideas to improve voting from around the world.
1. Allow people to register to vote on Election Day
Registering to vote in the United States can be pretty confusing. Each state makes its own rules, which means that there’s no uniform deadline to register. The rules aren’t even consistently worded Alaska requires your registration be received 30 days before the election, while Georgia requires your application be postmarked by the fifth Monday prior to the vote.
In Canada, there’s no deadline. Citizens are allowed to register when they arrive at the polls on Election Day. That helped the country achieve a 68.5% turnout in its 2015 federal elections, compared to around 57% in the U.S. in 2012.
Thirteen states, including the battleground states of Iowa, Colorado and New Hampshire, allow same-day voter registration, but more states could join the list.
2. Automatically register people to vote
Another way to boost voter registration: Make the government do it, instead of the voter. In France, citizens are automatically registered to vote when they turn 18. In Sweden, eligible voters are registered via tax registration rolls.
This year, Oregon became the first state to use automatic voter registration, a simple, cost-effective method in which eligible citizens are automatically enrolled as voters when they request or renew their driver’s licenses. In May, The Nation reported that Oregon registered an average of 12,889 new voters each month, three times higher than the average of 4,163 monthly registrants in 2012, when the last election took place.
“Oregon’s system is truly groundbreaking and it offers a clear path forward for states looking to make their elections more accessible and convenient for voters,” Jonathan Brater of the Brennan Center told The Nation. “It costs less, increases the accuracy and security of our voter rolls, and curbs the potential for fraud.”
3. Make campaign season shorter
Singer Sheryl Crow made headlines Wednesday for calling for a shorter presidential election cycle, after what she described as an “extremely damaging” 2016 campaign.
The 2016 election will have lasted nearly 600 days by the time polls close on November 8. By comparison, Canada had its longest campaign season in recent history last year, and it lasted just 11 weeks. In Japan, elections last just 12 days.
“Countries across the globe have limited campaign seasons to as short as 6 weeks. With an organized system, a successful, informative, professional campaign could be run,” Crow wrote in the Change.com petition, which had about 33,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning. “We cannot sustain another lengthy slugfest like what we have witnessed for the past two years and ask both the DNC and RNC to reform the process and shorten our election season.”
4. Allow people to vote for ‘None of the Above’A
A variety of countries including India, Greece, Ukraine and Colombia have a “None of the Above” option on their ballots, which allows voters to indicate disapproval of all of the candidates in a voting system without staying home and sitting the election out.
In the U.S., only the state of Nevada has this option (known as None of These Candidates).
5. Let people rank the candidates instead of picking one
Many voters who don’t like the major-party nominees worry that voting for a third-party candidate will mean “throwing away” their vote. But Australia, India and Ireland avoid this problem by allowing voters to rank their choices. If their first choice doesn’t make the cut, then their vote goes to their second pick, until one candidate reaches a majority.
When Maine citizens go to vote this election, they will be given the option to agree to adopt ranked-choice voting when electing their governor, state legislators and members of Congress from now on. A poll commissioned by the Portland Press Herald suggested that the measure may be popular enough to pass, too.
6. Require people to vote
More than 22 countries around the world, including Uruguay (which has 96.1% turnout) and Australia (which has 94% turnout), have mandatory voting, where eligible voters are ordinarily subject to penalties including fines or community service if they do not vote in an election.
7. Hold Election Day on the weekend
Since the 19th Century, U.S. elections have been held on a Tuesday in November, a day originally chosen because it would allow farmers to travel on horseback to the polling place.

That’s not the case in countries such as Greece, Australia and Brazil, which hold elections on the weekend. Some argue that a similar move would make it easier for more Americans to get out to vote.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Modern Exorcisms


Exorcism in Italy 

"That is a possessed woman there," says Catholic priest Vincenzo Taraborelli as he points up to an 18th Century fresco in his Roman church. "They're holding her with her mouth open. She has little devils coming out of her body. She's being freed."  It is a scene the 79-year-old priest says he knows well. For the past 27 years, Father Taraborelli has performed exorcisms - the Catholic rite of expelling evil spirits.

He stumbled into the job when a fellow priest needed help. "I didn't know what it was, I hadn't studied it," the father says. "He told me what to do. I was totally ignorant."  He has since become one of Rome's busiest exorcists, and the Catholic Church is struggling to find younger successors.

Working three days a week from a windowless room at the back of his church near the Vatican, he often sees up to 30 people every day. "Before doing exorcisms I urge people to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist, and I ask them to bring me their prognosis. I'm in touch with many psychologists who send their patients here."

On one side of the room, a cabinet is filled with hundreds of small statues of angels. In a drawer, he keeps a supply of sweets to hand out to his visitors. On the wall is an official document showing his qualification as an exorcist.

Father Taraborelli's desk is crowded with papers, photos, and prayer books. He sits in a simple chair; those who come to see him sit opposite him. He said, "Before doing exorcisms I urge people to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist. I ask them to bring me their prognosis. First of all, I get the room ready," he says. "Then if the person is not doing well, I try to calm them down reassure them. I invite them to join me in prayer. But many of them when they come here are already disturbed."

He looks through his copy of the Catholic Church's exorcism rites. He's had to tape it back together to stop it from falling apart. Amidst the pile of papers on his desk, he finds the cross he uses to expel evil spirits.
His most notable case involved a married woman he treated for 13 years.  "Another man, who was a Satanist, wanted her," he remembers. "She refused. So this man told her: 'You'll pay for this.' He cast so-called spells to attract her to him, twice a week.

"Then they came to me, in this room. I started to pray, and she went into a trance. She would blurt out insults, blasphemies. I quickly understood she was possessed. As the rite continued, she started feeling worse and worse. So when I told the devil: 'In the name of Jesus, I order you to go away', she started to vomit little metal pins, five at a time. Aside from pins she would also vomit hair braids, little stones, pieces of wood. It sounds like something from another world right? Instead, it's something from this world."

Within the Catholic Church, the concept of possession by demons is an accepted belief.

Portrait of Satan

It is sometimes used to explain murderous behavior, as in the recent murder of 85-year-old French priest Father Jacques Hamel in his church in the French city of Rouen in July. When two Islamist militants acting in the name of jihadist group Islamic State (ISIS) burst into the church and stabbed Fr Hamel, he tried to fend them off, crying out "Be gone, Satan!", an apparent attempt at exorcism.  In support of the priest's actions, Pope Francis accelerated the process of Father Hamel's candidacy for sainthood.  

However, outside the Catholic Church, many dispute the entire basis of demonic possession and exorcism. Non-believers argue that so-called possession by evil spirits is simply a medieval superstition or myth. Those who claim to be possessed by evil spirits are people suffering from easily explicable psychological or psychiatric problems, they say.

Father Taraborelli rejects the skepticism. "Well, someone who isn't a believer doesn't believe in the devil either," he says, "But someone who believes knows that the devil exists, you can read it in the gospel. Then you only need to see how the world is nowadays. It has never been this bad. These violence acts are not human. So terrible, like ISIS."

Father Taraborelli shows no sign of wanting to give up his work and his mobile phone rings constantly. But, younger priests are not particularly attracted by the prospect of spending hours in windowless rooms, reading exorcism rites to disturbed believers.  "I told the bishop that I can't find anyone willing to do this. Many of them are scared. Even priests can be scared. It's a difficult life."

The Vatican has denied claims that Pope Francis performed an exorcism, after TV images showed a man apparently reacting to him putting his hands on his head. The encounter during Sunday Mass was shown on a TV channel owned by the Italian bishops' conference.

Pope Francis

The station quoted exorcists as saying there was "no doubt" the Pope had either performed an exorcism or a prayer to free the man from the devil. Its director later apologized for "having altered the truth".

The Pope's spokesman said he "did not intend to perform any exorcism" Rather as he frequently does with the sick or suffering who come his way, he simply intended to pray for a suffering person," said Federico Lombardi in a statement.

The footage shows a young man, who is in a wheelchair, opening his mouth and either screaming or breathing deeply as the Pope puts his hands on his head and prays for him during the Mass in St Peter's Square. The man then convulses and slumps in his chair.

The director of the TV station which broadcast the pictures, TV 2000, apologized for the report, saying: "I don't want to attribute to him a gesture that he didn't intend to perform." "I apologize for having altered the truth of the facts and for the people who are involved, in particular I apologise to the Holy Father," said Dino Boffo.

Religious figures in Rome had insisted the act had been an exorcism. They included the Vatican's former chief exorcist, Gabriele Amorth, who was quoted by Italian media as saying the act "was an exorcism alright" and that he had since performed his own exorcism on the young man, who he said was called Angelo.

Exorcism is the ancient practice of driving out demons or evil spirits from a person or place they are thought to possess. It is practiced by some Roman Catholics but treated with deep skepticism by others.

Exorcism in the U.S.

Exorcism, the ancient rite of casting out Satan and his demons from the souls of the possessed, is thriving in America and was long before recent revelations that Mother Teresa underwent one and Pope John Paul II performed them. "It is a big phenomenon," J. Gordon Melton, a Methodist minister who directs the Institute for the Study of American Religion, says of exorcisms in the United States, There is a lot of exorcism going on."

Mother Tesesa

Pope John Paul II

What many might consider an archaic and obscure rite has been front-page news this year. For instance, the Catholic Archbishop of Calcutta, Henry Sebastian D'Souza, announced that he ordered an exorcism performed on Mother Teresa before she died in 1997. D'Souza said he thought the Nobel Peace Prize-winning nun possibly was being attacked by the devil, and asked a priest to exorcise it.
Mother Teresa is not the only prominent Catholic figure linked to exorcism. Italian media reported that Pope John Paul II attempted to exorcise evil spirits from a 19-year-old Italian woman last year, although the Vatican said he only blessed her. The Roman Catholic Church's chief exorcist said the woman displayed superhuman strength, and that the pope's efforts did not rid her of the hostile spirit.

In America, exorcism is increasingly widespread, experts say.

Exorcism is more readily available today in the United States than perhaps ever before," writes Michael Cuneo, a sociologist at Fordham University, in his newly published book, American Exorcism. Cuneo suggests that though the hit book and movie The Exorcist brought the subject national attention in the 1970s, exorcism has grown more popular in the past two decades.

The Catholic Church has at least 10 official exorcists around the United States, nine more than a decade ago, Cuneo says. He found them reporting the kind of bizarre supernatural behavior featured in movies: levitation, mysterious scars and wounds that might form pictures or spell out hateful words, and more.

The church remains extremely cautious in approving the procedure. The vast majority of exorcisms today are performed by a variety of protestant religions, Cuneo and other experts say. "By conservative estimates, there are at least five or six hundred evangelical exorcism ministries in operation today, and quite possibly two or three times this many," he writes, in addition to numerous exorcisms performed by charismatic, Pentecostal and other brands of Christianity.

Some involve tying people to chairs and then trying to scream the demons out of them; others retch and curse while writhing on the floor. Some are more like therapy sessions, where counselor-exorcists discuss demons of lust and guilt along with traditional mental health concerns.

Roman Catholic exorcisms are elaborate, carefully planned rituals that take hours to complete. They can involve holy water, crucifixes, and sacred ruins, as laid out by the book, De Exorcismus et supplicationibus quibusdam, an updated exorcism manual approved by Pope John Paul II in 1998.
"There's an actual formula," says Father Joseph Scerbo, a Roman Catholic priest who heads the Association of Christian Therapists. Scerbo says actual demonic possession is extremely rare, and many may use the term incorrectly to apply to demonic affliction, which is less serious. And, Scerbo doubts Mother Teresa was the victim of full-fledged demonic possession and in need of an exorcism.

Old Exorcism Book in Latin

In contrast to Roman Catholic ritual, many protestant exorcisms are straightforward and may not appear much different from a normal prayer service. "We would not see it as any elaborate ritual," says the Rev. J.R. Hall, editor of the Pentecostal Herald and member of the United Pentecostal Church. He says an exorcism might involve nothing more than prayer and laying hands on the afflicted.

Many conservative Protestants see the devil as an active force in the everyday lives of people, and feel that exorcism is the natural way to deal with it. They might undergo several exorcisms (also called a "deliverance") a month.

New Age religions also have their own brand of exorcism, believing that spirits of the dead and other supernatural creatures routinely interfere with and sometimes possess the living, and must be told to leave.

Like many protestant groups, United Pentecostal Church members believe the Holy Spirit gives them the power of "divination" to sense when a demon is afflicting someone. Many people might be violent, depressed, or irreligious without any supernatural involvement."Through the Holy Spirit, you can tell it's more," says Hall of genuine cases of possession.

The Laying on of Hands: Fundamentalist Exorcism

Pastor Steven Waterhouse, an evangelical Christian who heads the Westcliff Bible Church in Amarillo, Texas, has written about the differences between mental illness and possession. "I think there are such things as demon influence but I think it's rare," he says. "People are too quick to diagnose demons. Human nature is plenty evil on its own."

Amateur Exorcisms Linked to Deaths

Exorcism has caused a number of real-world tragedies over the years, including several deaths.
For instance, Pentecostal ministers in San Francisco pummeled a woman to death in 1995, as they tried to drive out her demons.

In 1997, a Korean Christian woman was stomped to death in Glendale, California and in the Bronx section of New York City, a 5-year-old girl died after being forced to swallow a mixture containing ammonia and vinegar and having her mouth taped shut.

In 1998, a 17-year-old girl in Sayville, New York., was suffocated by her mother with a plastic bag, in an effort to destroy a demon inside her.

Cuneo reports that a Wisconsin woman successfully sued her psychiatrist in 1997, after he diagnosed her as diabolically possessed, and having 126 personalities, including the bride of Satan and a duck. The experience left her suicidal, she claimed.

Overall, many involved in exorcism say the prayers and rituals involved are safe and may offer some comfort to true believers who are not actually afflicted by demons. "If it's real to the person, you have to take it seriously," says Eddie Gibbs, an Anglican priest and professor at the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. "I do believe that there is an intelligence behind evil," he insists. But, he cautions: "We mustn't be gullible."

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Knowledge Quiz, No. 69

I dislike the term trivia. No knowledge is trivial. All information contributes to the whole of an intelligent human being. And, it is an essential part of critical thinking. That is why I did not call this a Trivia Quiz. Instead, I am calling it a Knowledge Quiz.

*    *    *    *
Knowledge Quiz, No. 69

The answers are at the bottom


1. What was the first feature-length motion picture with spoken dialogue and sound?
2. By what name was Manfred von Richthofen better known?
3. What liquor is made from the blue agave plant?
4. What is the fastest snake in the world?
5. What is the only bird that hibernates?
6. What letter is used to represent the number 50 in Roman numerals?
7. What women is considered to be the very first computer programmer?
8. Who is the only man to hit a golf ball on the moon?
9. What world leader once trained to become a priest?
10. Who was the only woman to hold the title of Prime Minister of Israel?
11. What scale is used to measure the intensity of a hurricane?
12. What is the only mammal that has wings and can fly?
13. Who was the first man to climb Mount Everest?
14. What Queen sponsored Christopher Columbus' voyage which resulted in the discovery of America?
15. What explorer is believed to have discovered America 500 years before Christopher Columbus?
16. The United States boycotted the 1980 Olympics when it was held where?
17. What color are you afraid of if you suffer from Xanthophobia?
18. How long was the Wright brothers’ first flight?
19.  What word is used in international radio communications to denote the letter "W"?
20. What organ does a dog not have?

*            *             *

 Answers

1. The Jazz Singer was released on October 6, 1927 and became the first feature-length film to include dialogue on the filmstrip itself. The Jazz Singer made way for the future of "talkies," which is what movies with audio soundtracks were called. A major hit, it was made with Vitaphone, which was at the time the leading brand of sound-on-disc technology. Sound-on-film would soon become the standard for talking pictures, triggering the talking-picture revolution. A year after its release, Hollywood recognized the importance of The Jazz Singer with regard to motion picture history by honoring the film with a special Academy Award.

The Jazz Singer

2, Manfred von Richthofen, also widely known as the Red Baron, was a German fighter pilot with the Imperial German Army Air Service during the First World War. He is considered the ace-of-aces of the war, being officially credited with 80 air combat victories. By 1918, he was regarded as a national hero in Germany, and respected and admired even by his enemies. Richthofen was shot down and killed on April 21, 1918. He remains perhaps the most widely known fighter pilot of all time, and has been the subject of many books, films and other media.

The Red Baron

3. Tequila is made from the blue agave plant. The high production of sugars, mostly fructose, in the core of the plant is the main characteristic that makes it suitable for the preparation of alcoholic beverages. Blue agave plants grow into large succulents, with spiky fleshy leaves, that can reach over 7 feet in height. Tequila is produced by removing the heart of the plant in its eighth to fourteenth year. This heart is stripped of its leaves and heated to convert the starches to sugars, which is fermented and distilled.

Agave Plant

4. Regarded as the fastest snake in the world, the Black Mamba can move at 17.6 feet per second and reach amazing speeds of 12 mph. The Black Mamba is not only the fastest snake in terms of moving, but it is also one of the fastest striking snakes in the world. The Black Mamba is regarded as the most feared snake in Africa, where its bite is known as the “Kiss of death”. A single bite contains enough venom to kill ten people. The Black Mamba’s extraordinary speed, combined with its fast-striking venom, make it one of the world’s most deadly snakes.

The Black Mamba

5. The common poorwill is the only bird known to hibernate. During the winter, instead of migrating to a warmer climate like other birds, the common poorwill can slow its metabolic rate and drop its body temperature so it can survive several weeks or months without eating. The common poorwill was not only the very first bird to be discovered to hibernate but it is also the only known species of bird to do so.

The Common Poorwill

6. Roman numerals, the numeric system of ancient Rome, uses combinations of letters from the Latin alphabet to signify values. L represents the number 50. Today's use of Roman numerals tends to be more for cosmetic purposes than function.

7. A gifted mathematician, Ada Lovelace is considered to have written instructions for the first computer program in the mid-1800s. Because she introduced many computer concepts, Ada is considered the first computer programmer. Ada Lovelace's contributions to the field of computer science were not discovered until the 1950s. Since then, Ada has received many posthumous honors for her work. In 1980, the U.S. Department of Defense named a newly developed computer language "Ada," after Lovelace.

Ada Lovelace

8. While on the moon, Alan Shepard used a Wilson six-iron head attached to a lunar sample scoop handle to hit two golf balls, becoming the first and only person to play golf on the moon. Only a handful of people in NASA knew of Shepard's plan when, after an extended excursion on the lunar surface, he pulled out the club, and dropped two balls on the moon. Despite thick gloves and a stiff spacesuit which forced him to swing the club with one hand, Shepard struck two golf balls; driving the second, as he jokingly put it, "miles and miles and miles." Since Shepard’s famous shot, no other astronaut has attempted to hit a ball off the moon.

Alan Shepard Playing Golf on the Moon

9. Joseph Stalin was the supreme ruler of the Soviet Union for a quarter of a century. Stalin’s real name was Josef Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, but changed his last name to Stalin, which, in Russian, means “made of steel." His mother was a devout Russian Orthodox Christian, and wanted him to become a priest. As a teen, Stalin was accepted as a student at the “Orthodox” Seminary of Tbilisi, Georgia, where he trained as a Jesuit priest. In 1899, he was expelled from the seminary for missing exams, although he claimed it was for Marxist propaganda.

Stalin

10. Golda Meir was the fourth Prime Minister of Israel and the first and only woman to hold the title. She was elected Prime Minister of Israel on March 17, 1969, after serving as Minister of Labor and Foreign Minister. Israel’s first woman to hold such an office, she was described as the “Iron Lady” of Israeli politics years before the epithet became associated with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. By the end of her life, she had become a hero as one of the first women to head a nation in the modern era. She died in Jerusalem on December 8, 1978.

Golda Meir

11. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is a 1-5 rating based on the hurricane's intensity. To be classified as a hurricane, a tropical cyclone must have maximum sustained winds of at least 74 mph (Category 1). The highest classification in the scale, Category 5, is reserved for storms with winds exceeding 156 mph. The scale was developed in 1971 by civil engineer Herbert Saffir and meteorologist Bob Simpson, who at the time was director of the U.S. National Hurricane Center. The scale was introduced to the general public in 1973.

12. Bats are flying mammals in the order Chiroptera. The forelimbs of bats are webbed and developed as wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. By contrast, other mammals said to fly, such as flying squirrels, gliding possums and colugos, glide rather than fly, and can only glide for short distances.

A Bat

13. On May 29, 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest. They were part of the ninth British expedition to Everest, led by John Hunt. Hillary later participated in expeditions to the South Pole and was among the first to reach the top of Mount Herschel. Hillary was named by Time as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Sir Edmund Hillary, who had been cited as "New Zealand's most trusted individual," died on January 11, 2008, in Auckland.

Sir Edmund Hillary

14. Christopher Columbus asked King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to sponsor his voyage of exploration. Queen Isabella refused Columbus at first but eventually agreed to sponsor the voyage. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella gave Columbus three ships, a crew of about ninety men, and some money. The voyage led to the opening of the New World and to the establishment of Spain as the first global power which dominated Europe and much of the world for more than a century.


King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella

15. Leif Erikson was an Icelandic explorer and is generally believed to be the first European to reach North America, some 500 years before Christopher Columbus. Leif Eriksson was the son of Erik the Red, founder of the first European settlement on what is now called Greenland. In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed a proclamation that declared October 9 to be Leif Eriksson Day in honor of the Viking explorer, his crew and the country’s Nordic-American heritage.

Bust of Leif Erikson

16. The 1980 Summer Olympics boycott was one part of a number of actions initiated by the United States to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan spurred President Jimmy Carter to issue an ultimatum on January 20, 1980 that the United States would boycott the Moscow Olympics if Soviet troops did not withdraw from Afghanistan within one month. Sixty-five countries did not participate in the Olympics despite being invited. The Soviet Union would later boycott the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

17. Xanthophobia is fear of the color yellow. While, at first glance, this may seem like a foolish fear, it is real to the people impacted by this phobia. Xanthophobia derives from the Greek word “xantho”, meaning yellow and “phobos” which means fear. The common cause of this phobia is traumatic experiences involving the color yellow, like getting stung by a bee or perhaps getting hit by a yellow car. Sufferers would not eat cheese, mustard, bananas, lemons, or anything that is yellow.

18. The first flight was flown by Orville Wright and lasted 12 seconds. On December 17, 1903, Orville Wright piloted the first powered airplane 20 feet above a wind-swept beach in North Carolina. The inaugural flight lasted 12 seconds and covered 120 feet. Three more flights were made that day with Orville's brother Wilbur piloting the longest one which lasted 59 seconds over a distance of 852 feet. Their historic aircraft is on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Wright Brothers First Flight

19. The code word for W is Whisky. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) assigned code words acrophonically to the letters of the English alphabet, so that critical combinations of letters can be pronounced and understood by radio or telephone regardless of language barriers or the quality of the communication channel. The 26 code words in the NATO phonetic alphabet are as follows: Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliett, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, and Zulu.

2O. While a dog’s body shares many similar body features with humans, the appendix is one exception. This is due to the fact that dogs do not have an appendix! In humans, the appendix is a narrow, tube-shaped structure that protrudes from the cecum, a pouch-like portion at the beginning of the large intestine. The term appendix comes from the Latin word “appendix” meaning appendage, an addition at the end. Although scientists have long discounted the human appendix as a vestigial organ, there is a growing body of evidence indicating that the appendix does in fact play a part of the human body’s immune system.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Interesting Facts about Historic U.S. Elections

Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters. - Abraham Lincoln

The worst campaign slogan in history belongs to Al Smith, who was against prohibition. To show his support for the creation, distribution, and sale of alcohol, he advertised: “Vote for Al Smith and he’ll make your wet dreams come true.”


Al Smith
The only "clean" election in American history was most likely the first one in 1789, when George Washington ran unopposed. Even then, Alexander Hamilton was trying to pilfer votes away from the potential vice president, John Adams.


John Adams

It wasn’t until 1856 that Congress removed property ownership as a requirement to vote in elections.
U.S. Presidents choose which Bible or books they want to use on inauguration day. President Obama chose two Bibles: the Lincoln Bible, and to rest underneath it, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Bible.


Barack Obama


The Lincoln Bible

During the 1872 election, presidential incumbent Ulysses S. Grant ran against a corpse. His opponent, Horace Greeley, died before the election was finalized. Grant won the election.


Ulysses S. Grant

In 1870, Congress passed the 15th Amendment, which granted the right to vote to African- Americans and other nonwhite men. However, an African-American’s right to vote was often denied in the South and parts of the North until the 1960's.
In 1872, Susan B. Anthony was arrested for attempting to vote in the presidential election. At the same time, Sojourner Truth, a former slave and advocate for justice demanded a ballot in Michigan, but she was turned away. American women of all races finally won the right to vote in 1920.


Susan B. Anthony

Sojourner Truth

Congress gave Native Americans the right to vote in presidential elections in 1924; however, some states banned them from voting until the 1940's.
George Washington is the only U.S. president in history to win 100% of the Electoral College vote. This is mainly because organized parties weren’t yet formed, and he ran unopposed.


George Washington

Actress Roseanne Barr once attempted to run for president and got as far as filing with the Federal Election Commission under the “Green Tea Party Ticket.”


Roseanne Barr

George Washington spent his entire campaign budget on 160 gallons of liquor to serve to potential voters.
The Constitution does not state when Election Day should be, which meant that in the early 1800's, people could vote from April to December.
In 1845, Congress decided that voting day would be the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, which was after the fall harvest and before winter conditions made travel too difficult.
Andrew Jackson’s inauguration party was so wild that Jackson sneeked out of the White House and spent the night at a hotel. Finally, servants dragged tubs of punch out on the lawn to lure out the crowds.


Andrew Jackson

Norman Thomas of the Socialist Party ran for president more times than anyone in history. He ran for 6 times but was never elected.


Eugene V. Debs
George Washington was reluctant to become president and noted to his future secretary of war, Henry Knox, that becoming president felt like he was going to “the place of his execution".
Jehovah Witnesses don’t vote in presidential elections.
During the 1776 presidential campaign, Thomas Jefferson secretly hired a writer named James Callender to attack his opponent, John Adams, in print. Callender called Adams a “hermaphroditical character” who neither had the “force of a man” or the “gentleness of a woman.” Callender was later jailed for insurrection.


Thomas Jefferson
Democrats use a donkey as their party symbol thanks to Andrew Jackson. When his critics called him a “jackass” because of his populist views, he embraced the image, even using it alongside his slogan, “Let the people rule.”


Until 1937, presidents weren’t sworn in until March 4 because it took so long to count and report ballots. In light of better technology, the 20th amendment moved inauguration day to noon on January 20th.
John Adams complained that the only reason George Washington was “chosen for everything,” including president, was because “he was taller than anyone else in the room.”
In 1968, President Nixon wanted a running mate who wouldn’t compete with him, so he picked an unknown politician named Spirow Agnew. When a reporter asked people about Spirow Agnew, one person asked, “Is that a disease?” Another person suggested he was a type of an egg.


Spirow Agnew

When Democrat Stephen A. Douglas called Abraham Lincoln “two-faced” during an election year, Lincoln replied, “If I had another face, do you think I would wear this one?”


Stephen A. Douglas
The first election to use a voting machine was in 1892. Though it was actually invented earlier, candidates initially opposed the idea because it eliminated the wheeling and dealing for votes over the phone.
During the 1920 presidential election, a candidate from a third party, Eugene V. Debs, ran his presidential campaign from prison. He was in jail for opposing World War I.  He ultimately won 3% of the popular vote.
George Washington gave the shortest inauguration speech at 135 words. William Henry Harrison’s was the longest, at 8,445 words. He spoke for over two hours in a heavy snowstorm, which made him catch a cold and ultimately die from pneumonia one month later.
American astronauts on the International Space Station can vote in elections from orbit by secure email.
The United States is ranked 139th out of 172 countries in voter participation.
The Anti-Masonic party is known as the first “third party “ in the United States. They held the first national convention in 1832 in a saloon.
Before the 1804, the presidential candidate who received the second highest electoral votes became vice-president.
The oldest presidential candidate to be elected is Ronald Reagan at 69 years old. The youngest is John F. Kennedy at age 34.


Ronald Reagan

John F. Kennedy

The tallest U.S. President was Abraham Lincoln (5 feet, 4 inches). The shortest U.S. president was James Madison (5 feet, 4 inches).


Abraham Lincoln


James Madison

In the 1984 presidential election, Ronald Reagan received both the highest number of popular votes and the highest number of electoral votes in the history of U.S. presidential elections. These numbers have yet to be surpassed by another presidential candidate.
Grover Cleveland is the only candidate ever to be elected to one term, defeated for a second term, and then elected again four years later. Thus, he became both the 22nd president and the 24th president.

John Quincy Adams is the only president to have lost both the popular vote and electoral vote and still become president.


John Quincy Adams
The ultimate “whoops” moment in a U.S. presidential election happened when the Chicago Daily Tribune mistakenly declared that Dewey beat  Harry Truman in 1946.



The 1800 election year was so heated that vice president Aaron Burr ended up killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel.


Aaron Burr


Alexander Hamilton


Alexander Hamilton' Gravestone, Trinity Church, New York City

The first U.S. presidential election was in 1789. Only white men who owned property could vote, a stipulation that prohibited 94% of the population from casting a ballot.
The word “election” is from the Latin eligere, which means, “to pick out, select” and is related to the world “lecture".
It is illegal to drink alcohol in Kentucky and South Carolina on election day. But, unless you were drunk, how would anyone ever know?
Few other parts of the Constitution have been so criticized as the Electoral College because it can deny the will of the people. And, it has in four elections.
During the John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson election year, American politics sounds more like bathroom graffiti than political commentary.  For example, Jackson called John Quincy a pimp, and Quincy called Jackson's wife a slut and his mother a prostitute.
A U.S. presidential candidate is required to be at least 35 years old, a permanent US resident for at least 14 years and considered a natural US born citizen.
George Washington argued that a presidential candidate should not appear too eager to win the presidency or actively seek it. Rather, he said "The office should seek the man." He considered active campaigning undignified, even vulgar.
Barack Obama was the 17th president to be elected to at least two terms. Thirteen previous presidents were elected and served at least two terms. Three additional presidents were elected to two terms, but did not complete the second term due to assignations and a resignation. They were Abraham Lincoln (assassinated), William McKinley (assassinated) and Richard Nixon (resigned).
The first woman to run for U.S. President was Victoria Woodhull in 1872, nearly 50 years before the 19th Amendment allowed women to vote in presidential elections. Her running mate, Frederick Douglass, was the first African-American ever nominated for Vice President.


Victoria Woodhull

Fredrick Douglass

Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president an astonishing four terms before the 22nd Amendment set term limits.


Franklin D. Roosevelt

Over 200 women have run for President of the United States; however, this list includes nominees of many minor parties and candidates who ran for president before women won the right to vote in 1920.