An election is a process whereby people vote to choose a group or individual to hold an official position. They have been used in modern democracy since the 17th century and they’re usually reserved for the living, because how could a dead person run for office, quite a few dead people who have been elected to office. Reasons range from not wanting a certain person to win to genuine accidents, but either way, these departed souls somehow managed to win elections that they did not live to see. Let’s learn how these people got elected without having to campaign.
1. Gary Ernst
In 2016, Gary Ernst died when he was running for the treasurer of Oceanside in California. His opponent, Nadine Scott, told voters to vote for her as she was the only candidate left, however councilman Jerry Kern, told voters to vote for Ernst because there were many people who didn’t want Nadine to secure the spot. On election day, Ernst got 17,659 votes while Nadine got 15,500. Although she lost, she went to the city council to ask that she be made treasurer. Her request was denied and Rafe Edward Trickey Jr. was appointed to the post.
2. Mel Carnahan
In 2010, Mel Carnahan, his son and his aide unfortunately died in a plane crash three weeks before the election that would decide if he would be the senator representing Missouri in Congress. Because it was so close to the election, his name could not be removed from the ballot. His opponent, the incumbent John Ashcroft must have thought that he had it in the bag, but he would soon learn otherwise. Ashcroft garnered 1,039,409 votes while Carnahan secured 1,075,872. The small margin was likely influenced by advertisements of Carnahan’s wife, Jean, asking people to vote for her husband despite not being in the land of the living. Jean then took Mel’s place in the US senate.
3. Patsy Mink
Five weeks before the vote to determine who would represent Hawaii in the House of Representatives, Patsy Mink passed away due to pneumonia. Like Carnahan, Mink died too close to the election for her to be swapped with another candidate, but it wouldn’t matter. Mink won the election with 56 percent of the votes. If she was alive, her win would have been the 14th time representing the state. After securing the seat, a special vote was called to choose someone to complete the late politician’s term.
4. Bill Nojay
New York State Assembly member Bill Nojay was running to be reelected during the Republican primary in his district when his world came crashing down. Nojay had been under investigation for fraud charges in Cambodia and he was also being investigated by the FBI. Unable to deal with the scandal, on the day that he was supposed to turn himself in, he drove to his family’s burial plot and never left. Undeterred, the Republican party continued to ask people to vote for him and they did. The Republicans then selected a replacement.
5. Jenny Oropeza
In 2010, Democrat Jenny Oropeza passed on from cancer while running for the California state senate. Like many others on this list, the ballot could not be changed, so California, a historically democratic state voted for her anyway, but it wasn’t without scandal. After her passing, the Democratic party sent mail to voters saying that “Oropeza’s illness has been a tragedy” and never clearly mentioned her death. Republicans claimed that the Democrats were being insincere in their campaign methods. Ted Lieu won the special election to have her replaced.
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