Election Day has arrived. Hopefully everyone will be getting out to the polls.
For those that have voted in past elections, you’re used to seeing the usual options on the ballot. You’re used to choosing presidents, senators, governors, etc.
However, in some cases (and in some states) there are ballot initiatives to decide on, and that’s when things have gotten a little weird at times.
What is a ballot initiative?
The ballot initiative is a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can bring about a public vote on a proposed statute or constitutional amendment .
Twenty-four states allow ballot initiatives. When on the ballot, they are commonly known as an initiative, ballot measure, or proposition.
Election Day – The Top 5 Weirdest Ballot Initiatives Ever
1. SHOULD WE GIVE ONE RANDOM VOTER A MILLION DOLLARS?
In 2006, Arizona voters were asked to vote on Proposition 200, also called the Arizona Voter Reward Act. Here’s how it appeared on the ballot:
“Proposition 200 would establish a $1,000,000 prize to be awarded to a randomly selected person who voted in the primary or general election. Anyone who voted in the primary or general election would be automatically entered in the drawing for the prize money, and if a person voted in both the primary and the general election, that person’s name would be entered twice in the drawing.”
An opposing argument from the Arizona Farm Bureau prior to the election stated, “Voting is a right and a privilege – not a chance at the lottery. The prospects of a million dollar prize for voting may entice more voters to the polls, but our democracy deserves more.”
It appears that the voters of the Grand Canyon state agreed with this argument, as 2/3 of them rejected the proposition.
2. SHOULD WE CREATE A COMMISSION TO TRACK VISITORS FROM OUTER SPACE?
In 2010, Denver voters were asked if a commission should be formed to track aliens, UFO’s, flying saucers, etc.
It called on voters to “adopt an initiated ordinance to require the creation of an extraterrestrial affairs commission to help ensure the health, safety and cultural awareness of Denver residents and visitors in relation to potential encounters or interactions with extraterrestrial intelligent beings or their vehicles.”
The bill sponsors received the minimum requirement of 3,974 signatures and got this proposition on the ballot. It was rejected by over 80% of the voters and those at Area 51 breathed a sigh of relief.
3. SHOULD WE BUILD A NEW HOUSE FOR THE PREGNANT ELEPHANT?
In 1997 , Cincinnati voters were asked whether they should build a new house for elephants at the Cincinnati Zoo. According to the AP at the time, the cost for the new elephant house and a parking lot (for people I assume) was $52 million. That’s a lot of peanuts.
Cincinnati zoo officials threatened to ship off its four Asian elephants, one of them pregnant, if voters rejected the initiative. Well, the voters did reject it and ultimately two of the elephants were sent packing.
Hey Cincinnati voters, an elephant never forgets.
4. SHOULD A POLICE OFFICER GET TO WALK HIS BEAT WITH A VENTRILOQUIST’S DUMMY?
A dummy on the ballot? Many would argue this wasn’t the only time.
From the NY Times in 1993:
“Voters in San Francisco will decide next Tuesday whether to allow a veteran police officer to walk his beat with a ventriloquist’s dummyâ€¦.Brendan O’Smarty, he of the laughing Irish eyes, whom Officer Geary picked out of a ventriloquist’s catalogue after he was selected to work in a community policing program that encouraged officers to use ‘creative and ingenious methods’ to break down barriers between citizens and police. The hand-carved dummy cost $1,750 because Officer Geary wouldn’t hear of the $700 molded particle board version.â€
Voters in this case approved the proposition. A victory for dummies everywhere!
5. SHOULD A DOG BE OUR MAYOR?
In 2014, a 7-year-old Great Pyrenees dog named Duke was elected mayor of Cormorant, a small town in Minnesota. Thought of by many as the underdog, Duke ran a solid campaign and pulled off the victory.
From WDAY-TV in 2014:
“Poor Richard Sherbrook that owns the Cormorant Store, he didn’t even have half as many votes as Duke did,â€ said local resident Tricia Maloney.
This wasn’t a one-time fluke either, as Duke was re-elected two more times before retiring earlier this year.
He worked hard in his role too…leading parades and appearing on three billboards, while still making time to catch the occasional frisbee or tennis ball.
HAPPY ELECTION DAY EVERYONE!
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