Library 101: Election Trivia

Posted on: Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 by Janet Kirby

We are approaching one of the most important times of the year for a democracy, election time.  It is not considered a major election year as it is between selecting a new president, but we are still inundated with commercials and mud-slinging.   And as many late night TV shows demonstrate, there are a lot of opportunities to have fun.  As one of the most famous humorists and social commentators of an earlier time, Will Rogers, said, “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts”.  We have gathered some interesting facts, trivia, and other items to tickle the fancy.

More famous quotes:

“Politics have no relation to morals” – Niccolo Machiavelli

“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress: but I repeat myself” – Mark Twain

“Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation” – Henry A. Kissinger

“You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog” – Harry S. Truman

“Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to be defeated” – Will Rogers

Information about politicians in the state of Virginia can be found on a webpage, PolitiFact Virginia ( where “Every day, reporters and researchers from the Times-Dispatch examine statements by Virginia elected officials and candidates and anyone else who speaks up on matters of public importance. We research their statements and then rate the accuracy on our Truth-O-Meter”. 

The state of Vermont has a fun facts webpage for kids illustrating the importance of a vote:

“Each Vermonter’s vote in the presidential elections counts 2.5 times more than someone from Ohio.  Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming are the seven states with the smallest population. They each have 3 Electoral votes, giving them a combined total of 21 votes. Ohio alone has 21 Electoral votes, but it has 2.5 times the population of the combined population of the seven smallest states. Because Ohio has the same voting power as those seven states, but has 2.5 times more people, a vote from someone from a small state like Vermont has 2.5 times the weight of a vote from an Ohioan.”

Nine Presidents never attended college: George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland, and Harry S. Truman. The college that has the most presidents as alumni (seven in total) is Harvard: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, George W. Bush (business school), and Barack Obama (law school).

Voting on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November started when farming was the predominant occupation. Farmers were mostly done with the harvest by then.  The weather and roads were still relatively good enough to make the trip to the county seat where voting took place.  Because it was a long trip for many people they would travel on Monday.  Sunday was still an important day for worship.  The first Tuesday after the first Monday was chosen to prevent Election Day from occurring on November 1st.  Merchants generally worked on their accounts on the first of the month and Congress didn’t want economic gains or losses to influence the merchants vote.  Also, November 1 is All Saints Day, an important Catholic holy day.

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