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Julian D. A. Wiseman
Contents: The Mayor of Cuckfield; Honorary Members of SEPTIC.
Abstract: This paper lists bizarre, unusual, or merely odd electoral systems. The author would like to be told of others.
Publication history: Only here. Usual disclaimer and copyright terms apply.
Cuckfield is a small village in West Sussex, on the southern coast of England. Cuckfield has a mayor, a ceremonial post, elected each year using a simple system as follows:
A vote consists of a single choice for a single candidate;
Whoever receives the most votes wins;
Votes each cost 1 penny (£0.01), and anyone can buy as many votes as they want.
Typically, a few tens of thousands of votes has been enough to become mayor.
The Cambridge University Tiddlywinks Club is, as one might expect, a student club dedicated to the arts of winks and drinks. CUTwC has a subsidiary club, an elite, the Society of Ex-Presidential Tiddlywinkers In Cambridge, composed primarily of ex-presidents of CUTwC residing in Cambridge. SEPTIC sometimes elects an honorary member, and does so as follows:
There is a voting booth, containing a jug. At the start of the voting process the jug is empty.
Voters vote in increasing order of seniority, starting with junior (most recently elected) honorary members, then less junior honorary members, then the ex-presidents of CUTwC, most junior first. Hence the last to vote (as of November 2005) is Dr Stewart Onan Sage (CUTwC President 1984-85), preceded by Dr Patrick J. Barrie (CUTwC President 1987-88).
The voter approaches the voting booth with two glasses of wine, one red, one white.
A voter may drink the contents of either or both of the glasses held. Wine not so drunk is to be poured into the jug. Additionally, the voter may pour some all, some, or none of the contents of the jug into a glass, and drink. Voters must leave the voting booth with both glasses empty.
At the end of the election, if there is any red in the jug, whether or not diluted with white, the candidate has been rejected.
It is traditional for voters to be escorted to the voting booth by the current president of CUTwC (the forthcoming junior ex officio member of SEPTIC), who shields the voter from the elements with a CUTwC umbrella, whether this is necessary or not. However the Umbrella Pursuivant, also known as the Member Apparent, does not observe the voting process itself.
The actual course of voting is of course secret, but it is widely speculated that early (junior) voters pour red wine into the jug, and perhaps also white. If this is true, then more senior voters would have to choose between rejecting the candidate and drinking the contents of the jug. Hitherto-fore they have always chosen the path of more drinking — presumably the intention of the junior voters. This hypothesis is supported by the observation that the junior members’ voting is often much quicker than that of the senior voters.
It is believed that this voting system would not scale to a national level.
Comments on this voting system can be posted on the CUTwC bulletin board.
If you know of other bizarre, unusual, or merely odd electoral systems, please tell the author.
Julian D. A. Wiseman, November 2005
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