You’ve probably been hearing a lot of talk lately about delegates, polls, winner-takes-all and super weekdays. If you’ve only just started paying attention, welcome to the American election cycle. Billions of dollars, 50 states and two political parties all contribute to a needlessly complicated and endlessly repetitive presidential circus. There are many things which you probably already know about but here are some unique and interesting things you may not be aware of.
The rules surrounding primary voting would make any sane person laugh. In some states a “sheriff” can hustle you out of a voting booth if you take longer than three minutes; in other states the sale of alcohol is prohibited on election day; and in some states the constitution notes that "idiots" and “insane” people are not allowed to vote (however the definition of an idiot is unfortunately not specified). And then there are the rules around the results. All votes are equal but some votes are more equal than others. Delegate numbers determine the Democratic and Republican winners, and dividing up delegates can be done proportionately (if you win half the vote, you get half the delegates), winner-takes-all (a great way to up your numbers fast), or a bit of both (because it’s not complicated enough at this point).
Allowing chance to be part of a democratic system seems counterintuitive, although it's perfectly legal in the case of a tie. While ties are rare, they can happen and elections to be literally decided “by lot”. Playing cards, drawing straws, tossing a coin and drawing names out of a hat can all be used as a legal means to decide the outcome of a vote. While many say the future leader of a country shouldn’t be chosen through luck of a draw, surely it’s a better option than say, a duel.
Just because betting on the election is illegal in America, it doesn’t mean people won’t try to predict the outcome. To assist with this there are some very scientific methods that people can opt for such as the “Redskins rule” where the outcome of a football game is used to predict the outcome of the election; the Halloween method, where the candidate who sells more Halloween masks is destined for the presidency; and the Kids Voting election, where mock votes across American schools have accurately predicted the outcome of all but two elections since 1940. Which all makes about as much sense as using the hibernating habits of a single groundhog instead of the National Weather Service to predict the end of winter.
Feeling nostalgic about the circus? Movie for your mood: The Greatest Show on Earth