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1893 San Diego mayoral election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1893 San Diego mayoral election
Flag of San Diego, California.svg

← 1891 April 4, 1893 (1893-04-04) 1895 →
William H. Carlson.png
Nominee William H. Carlson Adolph Gassen
Party Independent Republican
Popular vote 1,219 614
Percentage 46.8% 23.6%

Nominee A.E. Cochran John Kastle
Party Democratic People's
Popular vote 465 210
Percentage 17.8% 8.1%

Mayor before election

Matthew Sherman

Elected Mayor

William H. Carlson

The 1893 San Diego mayoral election was held on April 4, 1893 to elect the mayor for San Diego. William H. Carlson was elected Mayor with a plurality of the votes.

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In February, Chicago voted for a new Mayor, however, there wasn’t a winner. Instead, we whittled our way down to two candidates from the 14 that were on the ballot and we had to vote again. This seems incredibly inefficient and made me wonder if it has always been this way. Of course, it hasn’t and to my surprise, there was one country who changed the way America's vote and that was none other than Australia. The way you vote has changed dramatically since the earliest elections that happened in the county. Back in Ole Massachusetts, the earliest voting was done at the town hall by a show of hand and as you can imagine, you had a really good idea of how people voted. In Illinois, the Viva Voce method was used. Each person would go before a Judge and vocally announce who they voted for. Again, there was little to no privacy on how a person would vote. The rationale of the time was that the voter, white men, stood by their choices and only a meek and feeble man would try to conceal their vote. How each city voted was largely informed by state laws and In 1848 the Illinois constitution enacted that all voting in the state had to be done by ballot. Ballot voting soon became the standard across the country although it was far from the ballot voting you know today. Early ballot voting required the voter to write his choice on a piece of paper both legibly and correctly, a challenge even by today's standards. Eventually, political parties began furnishing tickets to the voters. Delivered in-person or by mail, the printed ballot featured all the candidates the political party wanted you to vote for. To vote, you would fold and take this ticket to the judge at the polling location and the ticket was deposited in the ballot box. It was an improvement, however, one that was far from perfect. The biggest problem was with the buying and selling of votes. Which was largely successful because it was still obvious how you voted. And that was to do with who printed the tickets The tickets were printed in multiple colors with intricate designs to distinguish a party vote. Sure, laws were enacted to counter these efforts, such as you could only use white paper. But that resulted in tickets printed in a variety of white shades. Selling your vote wasn't hard, there were even reports of voters shopping around for the best price. Bribes ranged from a couple of cents to few dollars, hell even a free beer or hot meal was enough. The system needed reform and they found it in Australia. During the 1850s a new way of voting was introduced in Australia and it bought four major reforms to ballot voting. Firstly, ballots would be officially printed by the overseeing government body at the taxpayer's expense. Secondly, the names of all candidates and their parties would be listed alphabetically on the ballot. Thirdly, the ballot would only be distributed at the place of voting and finally, voters would take their ballots into a private booth to mark them in secret. The Australian ballot system, known as the secret ballot, was first enacted in the city of Louisville, Kentucky in 1888. In just one year seven states had enacted reform laws based on the Australian ballot. Illinois would adopt the system in 1891 and if you were voting in Chicago’s 21st ward election in 1893, this would have been your ballot. You could vote the party ticket by marking within the circle or within a square next to the candidate's name. Also featured on the ballot are two propositions for the annexation of Rodgers Park and West Ridge. Overall the reforms proved successful. The business of buying and selling votes dried up and there was no certainty how a person voted. And those participating in the act weren't that trustworthy, to begin with. Getting on the ticket was still partisan, with primaries held in Chicago for both Mayors and Alderman. Under the Australian ballot law, a candidate that wasn’t nominated by a party could get on the ballot by gathering enough signatures. This was usually a small percentage of the last vote and it varied from state to state. It wouldn’t be till 1923 when Chicago made Aldermanic elections Non-partisan under a majority electoral system. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, the top two candidates will have a runoff. The 1923 alderman election resulted in 20 runoff elections. Mayoral elections became nonpartisan in 1995, however, it wasn’t until 2015 when we had the first ever runoff and we did it again this year. It’s hard enough to get people to vote once and with low voter turn out this year along with a record number of candidates running. There has to be a better way, I think there is and some others do too. Again, we have to look at voting in Australia. Back in 1917, Australia switched to a ranked preferential voting system. Where, depending on the election, you have to number each candidate or political party from your first to last preference. If no candidate or has enough votes The candidate with the least votes is removed and their second preferences votes are distributed and so on. If you want to learn more about this, there is a link to a CPG grey video in the description. Now this way of voting has made it to America already. It has been adopted in Maine and San Francisco. One great example is In 2013, ranked voting was used in the Minneapolis mayoral election. There were 35 candidates in the running and with ranked voting, there was no need for a runoff even though no candidate achieved a majority with the first round preferences. The way we vote in Australia has largely remained the same, with voters marking paper ballots. In America there was the introduction of machine voting, punch ballots and computer voting which has brought about issues with hanging chads, computer hacking, and machine manipulation. Chicago wasn't exempt from voter fraud, even with the introduction of the Australian ballot system. I wanted to talk about how people voted in this video and I would love to create a video solely on Chicago election shenanigans. So if you have any good stories or suggestions hit me up in the comments below. Also, should Chicago and the rest of the country adopt a rank voting system and switch back to paper ballots? I believe they should. That said, I can’t vote here as I’m not a citizen, yet, here’s hoping you’ll be happy to have me. Don’t forget to like and subscribe and share this video with your Chicago friends.




The 1893 election featured a field of five candidates. The Democrats, Republicans, and the People's Party each fielded one candidate. In addition to the regular parties, two independents also ran.[1]

Many of the candidates had long roots in the City of San Diego prior to the election. Adolph Gassen had previously held other elected office within the City. John Kastle of the People's Party had previously served as president of the Chamber of Commerce. A.E. Cochran had been active in Democratic Party.[1]

Independent candidate William H. Carlson campaigned vigorously, making numerous extravagant campaign promises, including electric car lines on every street, luxury hotels, steamship lines to every port on earth, transcontinental railroads, and jobs with high wages for all.[1]

On April 4, 1893, Carlson was elected mayor with a plurality of 46.8 percent of the vote, nearly twice as many votes as his closest competitor.[4]

Election results

San Diego mayoral election, 1893[4]
Party Candidate Votes %
Independent William H. Carlson 1,219 46.8
Republican Adolph Gassen 614 23.6
Democratic A.E. Cochran 465 17.8
People's John Kastle 210 8.1
Independent James Friend 98 3.8
Total votes 2,606 100


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Smythe, William Ellsworth (1908). History of San Diego, 1542-1908. San Diego: The History Company. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  2. ^ Monteith, J. C. Monteith’s Directory of San Diego and Vicinity for 1889-1890. Рипол Классик. ISBN 9785872729938. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  3. ^ Guinn, James Miller. A History of California and an Extended History of Its Southern Coast Counties: Also Containing Biographies of Well-known Citizens of the Past and Present. Historic Record Company. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Election History - Mayor of San Diego" (PDF). City of San Diego. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
This page was last edited on 20 August 2019, at 16:33
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