American elections are quite an exciting spectacle. Campaigns run for months or even years before election day. Television and print advertising sensationalize candidates and smear opponents. They provide endless fuel for late night talk shows and parody news programs, as candidates zip around their voting jurisdictions promoting themselves and their platforms and attending public events. The 2012 election was no exception.

Politicians are at their liveliest in the months leading up to the election. However, for two winning candidates, liveliness was not part of their winning strategies. In fact, they were not alive at all.

Earl K. Wood, a 96-year-old Florida Democrat running for his 12th term as Orange County tax collector, died on October 16th, roughly three weeks before the November 6th election day. Despite this slight disadvantage, he managed to defeat his Republican opponent and win the position, claiming 56 percent of the vote. 

In Alabama, Charles Beasley, a Republican, won his seat on the Bibb County Commission, winning 52% of the vote and defeating the incumbent, Democrat Walter Sansing. The 77-year-old Beasley passed away on October 12th

To replace Wood, Democrat Scott Randolph was selected by his party to step in and receive the votes on Wood’s behalf. 

To replace Beasley, the Governor of Alabama will have to appoint a new commissioner to fill Beasley’s shoes. 

For more information on the late Wood and Beasley, see Viola James’s column in the November 19, 2012 issue of the Law Times

This is not the first time our friends south of the border have elected a dead candidate to office. In 2000, Jim Carnahan was elected to represent Missouri in the Senate. He had died in a plane crash shortly before the election. He had been the Governor of Missouri as well. The Acting Governor declared that if he should win the election, his wife, Jean Carnahan, would be appointed to fill his seat. She became the senator from January 2001 to November 2002.

I was unable to find a Canadian official elected posthumously to the halls of power. However, notable Canadian Tim Horton was posthumously voted in to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1977.

Thanks for reading!

Suzana Popovic-Montag