When a dictator wants to show the world how much his people love him, he calls an election - with him as the only candidate. When you want to influence the outcome of a presidential election, or just oust the person in charge, there are lots of ways to do it. And thanks to weird laws, some people can't vote, have been disenfranchised, or in the case of South Carolina, couldn't even drink their sorrows away.
Here are some hard to believe, yet totally true, facts about elections around the world. Remember, every vote counts - just don't talk about it if you live in New Zealand.
Technically, the US Cabinet Could Stage a Bloodless Coup
The 25th Amendment codified much of the ambiguous law regarding presidential succession. But it also gave the Cabinet a way to undertake a peaceful coup and sideline the president if they believed he was mentally incapacitated. Acting under Section 4, the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet could declare the president disabled by submitting a written declaration to the president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the house. The VP would then become acting president.
Presumably, the president would submit his own declaration that he is, in fact, mentally fit for the office. But Section 4 has the coup plotters covered, as they could submit another declaration, which would give them two days to convene Congress for a vote, and if two-thirds of each body voted that the president was incapacitated, the VP would continue as acting president. Even then, the president could submit another declaration of his mental fitness, which would force another vote. Theoretically, this could continue indefinitely, as the 25th provides no limit on how many votes can be taken.
So technically, the president could be forced into a position where he is sidelined from office while continuously asserting his own mental competency, while the vice president acts as president.
If You Live in Texas, You Can Vote from Space
Passed in 1997, a Texas law allows American astronauts currently in space to cast their ballots in federal elections electronically from orbit. Ballots are sent via secure email to the Johnson Spaceflight Center and then passed on the astronauts' home counties in Texas. Why only Texas? Because virtually all current astronauts live near the Johnson Spaceflight Center in Houston.
The first space vote cast was by American astronaut David Wolf in 1997, while aboard the Russian Mir station.
Brazilians Elected a Rhino to Sao Paolo City Council
While numerous animals and objects have been run in elections as a joke or to make a statement, the people of Sao Paolo, Brazil were seriously fed up with corruption and graft on their city council. In protest, they elected Cacareco, a rhinoceros at the Sao Paolo zoo. It wasn't just a few pranksters who voted for her, either. 100,000 votes were cast for the rhino, far more than for any human candidate.
The statement worked, as Cacareco made international news, and a "Cacareco Vote" is still used as a term to mean protest vote in Brazil.
Brazil Elected an Actual Clown to Its Congress
Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva was already a minor star in Brazil, with a hit song and prolific career as an actor and a clown. But he gained international fame when he ran for the Brazilian Congress in his home city of Sao Paolo. He ran in the guise of his clown character, Tiririca, using slogans like "what does a federal congressman do? I really don't know – but vote for me and I'll let you know!" and, "It can't get any worse, vote Tiririca!"
Despite his opponents denouncing him as illiterate, a racist, and having forged his signature on his candidacy forms, Silva got the most votes of any candidate in the entire 2010 election, and easily won. Even so, he still had to take a literacy test - which he passed.