A Candidate by Any Other Name



You know the old saying about death and taxes, well there is one more certainty to add to that list. Ron Estes WILL win his parties primary nomination for the Kansas 4th District election in the November Mid-terms. Well one of them will. Current representative, republican Ron Estes is being challenged by another Ron Estes. This is a district that current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo won in 2016 by 30 points. Rep. Ron Estes won by just under 7 points in the 2017 special election. How much will confusion over the candidates name affect the primary race. The Kansas Secretary of State has ruled that the incumbent can be identified by including “Rep.” on the primary ballot. Had this been a race between the two Ron’s in the general election it would be much more clear cut since we know most voters in America at the state level still vote according to the party identification model. They are simply looking for Rep or Dem, not much else is needed. Heaven Insights found that only 37% of Americans could name their own congressman whereas 56% knew their party affiliation.


Precincts Reporting: 623 of 623

R-Rep. Ron Estes 56507 81%

R-Ron M. Estes 12896 19%

This did get me thinking though. Has this happened before and has it ever affected the outcome of an election?

In 2015 a young Texas law student, possible inspired by the Eddie Murphy Film, A Distinguished Gentleman, ran the Democratic nomination to represent the Texas 15th. The party was very worried that the young Rubén Hinojosa would gain an unfair advantage in the primary for the safe congressional seat held by retiring Rubén Hinojosa. The party insisted he use his fathers name rather than his mothers name to avoid confusion. In the film a con man played by Eddie Murphy takes advantage of the death of the man he shares a name with and wins election to the US congress.

Probably the most extraordinary example of this was in India in 2014 when Chandu Lal Sahu beat his opponent Ajit Jogi narrowly despite there being 10 other candidates called Chandu Lal Sahu in the Mahasamund constituency election. Some of the candidates knew little of the election and relatives of others said they had been promised top city jobs for running.

Romanian City Mayor Vasile Cepoi requested his middle name Lica be included on the ballot when two other candidates with the same name announced they were running against him. San Clemente city council race turned into farce as candidates debated whether 0 was a number or not. Incumbent Bob Baker was given ballot position 1 but his name sake challenger was given the number 0 so one position above him. Alaskan voters were a little confused when two Dan Sullivans appeared on the same ballot but for different offices. In 2012 Labour cried foul when incumbent West Midland councilor Derek Rowley went head to head with Conservative candidate Derek Rowley. The incumbent won. In Japan last year a 32 candidate strong municipal council contest elected 30 candidates using a preferential voting system. Two candidates name Shigeru Aoki were elected. The election board had asked that the voters indicated which Aoki they wanted by writing on their age or incumbent next to the name. On over 800 ballots, voter intent could not be determined but since both were elected it went unchallenged. A Quebec mayoral election with two Pierre Tremblay placed a big emphasis on distinguishing them by their address which is printed next to their names on the ballot paper. There were “1500” Pierre Tremblay in the provinces phone book. Sharing a name or surname in some communities is more common than you would think. In Trout River New Foundland, In 2017, 10 out of 24 city council candidates shared the same surname Crocker.

In none of the the examples above has a confusion over names led to an upset however in one Scottish local election there seems to be indications that it has. Paisley North West is one of the most deprived areas in Scotland. In 2017 Labour lost 1 of 2 ward seats. Some claimed the Tory surge in Scotland was the reason. Even the winner John McIntyre was surprised by the win. Others put it down to popular local activist and independent candidate John McIntyre running. There was an outcry on social media challenging the notion that a Conservative could win in the poverty stricken town of Ferguslie.


Election Summary September

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There were lots of elections in September and depending on your point of view and possibly whether you live there or not you may feel they were significant.


Nearly 3 million (78%) voted in a knife edge election.  The Conservative second largest party was able again to form a coalition with right wing populist “Progressive Party”.  Important issues in the campaign were taxes, energy and immigration policy.

System – List (19 multi member constituencies ranging from 4 to 19 members)

Turnout: 78%


This September also saw the election of the 21 strong Aruban Estate (parliament).  This former Dutch colony is a tourist trap and much of the politics revolve around identity and the implications of tourism.

System – List (1 national wide district for the 21 seats, interestingly according to the Caribbean Election centre parties can list up to 29 candidates!)

Turnout: 82%

Russian Gubernatorial and Regional Election

16 Governors of Russian regions were elected (plus one appointed by the state assembly).  All winning candidates were from Putin’s United Russia.

United Russia also dominated in the Regional elections.  There are 6 different types of region which collectively make of the 85 “federal subjects of Russia”.  In September there were 6 regional elections and United Russia dominated in all 6.

System:Governors – Run off, Regional: List(10), FPTP (75)

Turnout: Regional – 71% – 12%

German Parliament 

This hotly anticipated election saw Merkel lead her party to a fourth consecutive victory in the German parliament.  Having ruled out a coalition with the breakthrough 94 seat strong AfD, Merkel is currently seeking out what is being called a Jamaica coalition (Yellow, Black, Green).  This likely agreement this will replace the previous so-called grand coalition which had been ruled out by the leader of the socialists Martin Schultz previously.

Much was made in the press about the the success of the right wing nationalists AfD.  The party only won 3 constituency seats, all within Saxony but the proportional top up awarded them an additional 91 seats making them the third largest party in Germany.

System: Mixed Member Proportional

Turnout: 76%


Of the 33 strong legislative council only 14 are elected.  The pro Beijing parties dominate with the pro democracy parties gaining 4 seats from elections and none from the other 19 appointments.  The directly elected representatives are elected by proportional representation.

System: PR

Turnout: 57%

New Zealand

After nearly a month of negotiations the Labour party struck a deal putting them in coalition with New Zealand First.  The Greens would lend supply and confidence to bolster their agreement.

System:  Mixed Member proportional

Turnout: 79.8%


The independence referendum for Iraqi Kurdistan took place against the wishes of both the Iraqi central government and the international community for fears of sectarian violence.  The question was simply “Do you want the Kurdistan Region and the Kurdistani areas outside the region’s administration to become an independent state?”.

Unsurprisingly result was overwhelmingly in favour of independence at 92%.

Turnout: 72%











Upcoming Elections

elections 1

There are a handful of elections coming up in the next few months, arguable the most important of which is the German Federal elections.    This will be Merkel’s 4th election as leader of the CDU.  The German parliament is in the dying days of a Grand coalition of the largest two parties.  Going into September Merkel maintains a commanding lead over Martin Schulte’s high profile leadership of the Socialist.

[hide]Polling firm Fieldwork date Sample size Cdu-logo.svgCsu Logo 2016 neu.png SPD Die Linke Grünen FDP AfD Other Lead
Forschungsgruppe Wahlen 29–31 Aug 2017 1,309 39 22 9 8 10 8 4 17
Infratest dimap 28–30 Aug 2017 1,411 37 23 9 8 8 11 4 14
YouGov 25–29 Aug 2017 1,557 36 25 10 7 7 10 5 11
INSA 25–28 Aug 2017 2,034 37 24 10 6.5 8 10 4.5 13
Forsa 21–25 Aug 2017 2,501 38 24 9 7 8 9 5 14
Forschungsgruppe Wahlen 22–24 Aug 2017 1,283 39 22 9 8 9 9 4 17
Infratest dimap 22–23 Aug 2017 1,035 38 22 9 8 9 10 4 16
Emnid 17–23 Aug 2017 1,979 38 23 9 7 9 8 6 15


German Federal Elections 1965

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The Federal elections of 1965 saw in the Bundestagwahlkreis of Frieburg the final return of Hermann Kopf who had held the seat since its inception in 49.  This seat in the Baden-Württemberg region, has been solidly CDU except for a near 10 year period in the late 90s when SDP candidate Gernot Erler took the seat.

Kopf held the distinction of being one of the first 78 parliamentarian from 52 to 61 to sit in what would eventually become the European Parliament.

The Wahlkreisnummer is currently 281 back in 1965 it was 190 and on its formation in 49 it was 12.


Federal German Elections 1961

This ballot is for the (Bundestagswahlkreis) constituency of Plon Eutin/Nord for the 1961 (Bundestagswahl) Federal election.  The stimmzettel or ballot paper shows the same system Scotland uses (additional members).  Constituency vote on the left and regional proportional top up on the right.  Schleswig-Holstein today has 11 electoral districts.  Plon Eutin/Nord is now part of the District 6 not 7 and officially called Plon/Neumunster.

The Seat was won by Christian Democrat (CDU) Heinrich Gerns who had held the district since 1049 died 2 years after winning in 61.  The seat is currently held by Philipp Murmann of the CDU.



The next German election is on september 24th  2017.

2015 Greek Bailout Referendum

2015 greek referendum

The Oxi or No vote handsomely won this referendum  61 – 39 rejecting the European bailout of Greece and the attached preconditions.

The question itself was rather convoluted “Should the agreement plan submitted by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund to the Eurogroup of 25 June 2015, and comprised of two parts which make up their joint proposal, be accepted?”  This is the only plebiscite of its kind to ever take place in Greece.  All previous votes have related to the constitutional questions of how Greece should be governed.  A similar referendum to this one was called in 2011 but subsequently cancelled after pressure from Eurozone members.

The ballot itself is relatively copiable.  There doesnt appeat to be any safety feature on it at all including serial numbers, watermarks or seals.  The size is the only distinguishable feature.



Post Apartheid South Africa

The first ballot I ever acquired is a fairly common one but a very special one.

In 1994 post apartheid elections were held in South Africa on 27 April. The elections were the first in which people of all races were allowed to take part. An


ndependent electoral commission was set up to supervise and plan the election. Millions queued over a three day period. Altogether 19,726,579 votes were counted as valid and turnout of 85% was recorded.  The ANC won the most seats in the national assembly taking  252 out of 400.  A Government of National Unity was formed with Nelson Mandela is the first black chief executive of South Africa.  The system used for electing the president is essentially a parliamentary one.  The president comes from the largest party in the national assembly.      

One of the



I have is from the KwaZulu/Natal province.  This is the most common one available online.  Genuine ones have a water mark, micro printing and of course it most famous feature, the addition of Inkatha as a post script at the bottom after a last minute reversal

of the parties decision to boycott the election

in an attempt to try and hold back the ground swell of support for Mandela.  The inclusion of Inkatha is not on all provincial ballots.  If any one knows which ones they are not on that would be helpful.   

Below is a copy of the national ballot. I have managed to get one of these from eBay but it hasn't arrived yet.

The national assembly of 400 members was elected using a two tier method, 200 elected via list in provinces and 200 elected via a national list.  The scrapping of the FPTP was seen as a commitment on behalf of the ANC towards a government of national unity.  A FPTP system used in 94 would have produced an extraordinarily lop sided parliament.  The two


system greatly benefited smaller parties and there was some evidence of split ticket voting at the national and provincial level.    27 April is now a public holiday in South Africa, Freedom Day.
I have 3 left in my collection after buying quite a few and giving some of  them away to South African friends.

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My take on the 2017 election

I stayed up as long as I could. By 1pm I retired to the bedroom to carry on watching. Big mistake. I must have drifted off around 3 and then woke up again about 5 with Iplayer frozen on a a close up of David Dimbleby’s face.  
So what happened? Well, after a brief moment of concern that the exit polls were wrong when the Sunderland result came in, the exit poll proved to be incredibly accurate. Let’s be clear this was not 97. There were a couple of big scalp moments with Robertson and Salmond losing their seats to the Conservatives and the new Portillo moment when Clegg lost his seat in Sheffield Hallam. The rising tide of Corbyn mania from newly register young voters contributed significantly to the winning of seemingly unwinnable seats such as Canterbury or Kensington.

So what did the national picture look like? Rather odd. Conservatives winning more votes, losing more seats than any other party. The total collapse of the UKIP vote, Conservatives winning safe SNP seats in Scotland and Labour winning safe Tory seats in England. Labour gaining the largest share of the vote increase since 45.  

So why did I say Prime Minister May achieved half her objectives. May’s rationale for calling the election was to take a mandate with a strong Tory majority into the Brexit negotiations. This is perhaps half true. May needed a big majority not to bolster in her negotiations but just in case the deal she comes up with is unpopular with the euro skeptics. Students of history know you can’t fight a war on two fronts. If May was to be successful in Euro then the Russian front that is Scottish independence must be dealt with. And dealt with, it has been. The political cost however has been high. At the time of writing May has just made a confidence and supply agreement with the DUP. This gives her a working majority of two. This is likely to be gone within a year due to by-elections. 

The clock for Brexit is ticking, the sharpening knives have temporarily been sheathed and the opposition is buoyant. Conventional wisdom says the that just like the Lib/Lab pact of the late 70s these things have a short self life and there will be another election within a year if not 6 months. Some countries are used to this but we are not. We have not seen this since the double election of 74. The country has no appetite for another election. We all smiled at Brenda from Bristol’s reaction to the calling of the 2017 election, “You’re joking. Not another one? Oh for God’s sake… I can’t stand this,” said the woman known only as Brenda, in a BBC interview in the western English city of Bristol. “There’s too much politics going on at the moment, why does she need to do it?” If there is another election within the next year I fear we all may become Brenda from Bristol.  

Even Cilla didn’t see that coming.

For those of you for whom the reference is lost on Cilla Black presented a television programme in 1980s called Surprise Surpirse.  This is the story of unexpected wins.  


Whilst no armistice had yet been signed and the dust had barely settled on VE Day, an Election was called for July 5th.  The last election was held 10 years previous and when George VI dissolved parliament the country was hungry for a say.  This said turnout that year was was only 72%.  It is fair to say that when the votes were finally counted almost 2 weeks later no one was expecting an Atleee victory let alone the scale of Churchill’s defeat.  

There were some signs: The public booing Churchill received at walthemstow dog track, the discontent the squaddies personally felt for Churchill and the concern for jobs when they came home.  The biggest issue was almost certainly the Labour manifesto promise to implement the reforms proposed by the Beaveridge report.  

In this election the so-called mouse laid waste to the bulldog with the biggest national swing in any general election.  


John Major had been in the job for almost 18 months when he called for a general election in terminal year of the parliament.       Kinnock had made significant changes to the perceived electability of the party and this combined with the length of time the Conservatives had been in power, all polls pointed to a hung parliament or slim Labour majority.  When the result was announced in Basildon the concept of the Quiet Tory was vindicated.  

Everybody has one

Dirty Harry once said “Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one.”  Talking heads, political pundits, talk radio and opinion driven editorials pervade our political culture today although many tend to take these things with a pinch of salt.  Opinion polls however have tended to occupy a more respected part of our political discourse.  That was of course until recently.  The failure of the polls to predict the Conservative majority in 2015 or the election of Trump in 2016 has made the general public rather sceptical of their prognostications.  

The first example of an opinion poll straw poll is from the election of 1824 where the poll indicated Andrew Jackson would beat John Quincy Adams.  And whilst Jackson did win the popular vote that year, a deadlock in the electoral college meant the House of Representatives decided for Adams.  By the 20th century a number of literary publications were using this new predicting device.  George Gallop began to pioneer a scientific methodology that would last into the next century.  

Public trust in opinion polls has been continually challenged with some truly catastrophic predictions.  One of the biggest mistakes was the prediction that Republican Thomas Dewey would become president in 1948.  In UK elections the polls have typically accurate predicted the result with a few notable exceptions.  The polls in the 1970, 74, 92 and 2015 election all came up short.  

The influence opinion polls have on voting behaviour is hotly contested with some arguing the polls have a sort of bandwagon effect, that those who are ding best attract more voters simply because of their position.  Others offer the underdog effect to explain how candidates doing badly can garner support.  Many countries have poll blackouts either the day or days before the election. 

Amateur Psephology and Ballot Paper Collector