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Issue #103: Looking back at Election Fraud in the 1994 Springfield Mayoral Race
The dead have risen and are voting Republican
Election fraud has often been a sticky subject to bring up. So many races have seen candidates claim fraud when there was none, leading to a claim of fraud being instantly viewed as suspicious. Many cries of fraud are fake, but we must not blow off all claims. Rigging and fraud has happened before, and it can happen in the future. With this in mind, I wanted to look back at one of the most infamous causes of election fraud in modern history - The 1994 Springfield Mayoral Election.
The town of Springfield is like so many in America. It holds a mix of development; home to suburbs, dense urban centers, and rural rustic communities. This map, which comes from the Town’s Wikipedia page, is here
The town has long been a Democratic stronghold. The industrial center has strong union presence, the middle class suburbs lean liberal, and the diverse downtown and “Little Springfield” have remained solidly Democratic. This has led to great consternation from the Republicans of town. This group is largely relegated to the wealthy - namely celebrities and industry leaders. Most media remains neutral, with Kent Brockman the trusted new source for the town. However, the town has held conservative voices in the past. In the 1990s, Birch Barlow was a big voice on the radio; pushing conservative messages.
The town’s longtime Mayor was Joe Quimby; a corrupt and sleazy politician if there ever was one. Well known for taking bribes, including from Mob Boss Fat Tony, there was no doubt the entire city administration was compromised. Quimby was also known as a major philanderer, often seen with younger women that were not his wife.
Despite this scandal, Quimby rarely faced real election defeat. He had many companies in his pocket, and the Republican politics of the 1990s was not supported by the town’s largely left-of-center residents.
But things changes in 1994
The 1994 Campaign
By the mid 1990s, conservatism in America was on the rise. In 1994, the year Joe Quimby would be up again, he finally faced a real threat. It came from such an odd choice, however.
The story began before 1994, involving a local celebrity-turned-criminal. In Springfield, the most popular local television show for kids is Krusty the Clown. The show is must-see-TV for local kids and is a major cash cow. Several years before, Krusty has a Sidekick called “Sideshow Bob” - real name Bob Roberts.
However, a few years into his time at the show, Sideshow Bob framed Krusty for armed robbery. The reason Bob gave was he wanted to change the show and make it more serious, and he had grown resentful of Krusty. He was figured out by a young boy, Bart Simpson, a massive Krusty fan who recognized that the robbery caught on camera was Bob in disguise.
Sideshow Bob would be released from prison a few years later, but was soon back in jail. This time, he has married a woman named Selma Bouvier. The reason for the marriage was Bob aimed to get her savings after planning to kill her. Bob’s mistake was that Selma was the Aunt of Bart Simpson, who’s distrust of Krusty led to him realizing Bob’s plan. Bob was charged with attempted murder and went back into prison.
Bob would be again released a few years later, and try to kill Bart Simpson for foiling his past two crimes. He would fail and end up back in prison.
This brings us to 1994. While Quimby remained unopposed for re-election, radio host Barlow began a radio war against the administration. Barlow held major call-ins each day on his afternoon program. He’d rail against the administration.
Then, one afternoon, Bob called into the program from prison to discuss politics. Despite his criminal past, Bob was a very articulate and scholarly individual. He was an avid Republican, and joined in Barlow’s tirades.
“You see, Birch, I’m presently incarcerated. Convicted of a crime I didn’t even commit! Attempted murder, now honestly, what is that? Do they give a Nobel Prize for attempted chemistry? Do they?”
Birch decided to then use his fame to push for the public to demand the release of Bob from prison. Quimby, ever willing to bowing to the pressure in an election year, pardoned Bob for his crimes. Once Bob was out, however, the real plan became clear, to run him for Mayor. This was decided at the Springfield Republican headquarters.
Once Bob was running, Quimby began to struggle. He was not a strong campaigner, and had to rely on Bart and his younger sister, Lisa, to help him in his campaign. He had a disasters debate performance as a result of a flue and the medicine he was taking.
The campaign saw both candidates campaign all over the city, by far the most contentious race in decades. Campaign commercials for both candidates can be seen below.
Here is a Quimby ad.
Here is a Sideshow Bob ad.
Heading into the home stretch, it seemed like Bob had a clear lead. Quimby’s campaign had been rough and he was so tarnished by scandal.
The Election Results
When the results began to poor in for the race, it was a landslide for Sideshow Bob. Initial reports had him at 100% of the vote, but this was a major mis-call by the network news.
In reality, Bob got 78% of the vote, with Quimby far back at 22%. It was a blowout win for the challenger. Below is the results by voter precinct. The Wikipedia map was used here for a basemap.
The precinct results actually show a very competitive race! In fact, this does not look like a landslide map at all. However, no one in town thought to check the precinct data for several months. In the meantime, Bob had been sworn in as mayor.
As the start of the article implies, there was fraud in these results. While results of this race would be eventually tossed, there is actually only fraud in one of these precincts. First. let me explain why the precincts/communities voted the way they did.
Pressboard Estates - The home precinct of the Simpsons family. This quiet suburb had no love for Bob, but also the antics of Bart Simpson also made them less caring for his attempted murder of the boy.
Downtown - Historically this area was strong for Quimby and the Democrats, but the corruption of the administration led to less money and more urban decay. Voters were sick of Quimby and flipped the Republicans for the first time in decades
Main Street - The roads of main street remain cracked and broken after the infamous monorail scheme. While these voters are also sick of Quimby, they are less forgiving of Bob’s antics.
The Tracks - This depressed and run down region is often overlooked by both sides. Sick of Quimby though, this community opted for a fresh face.
“Little Springfield” - The home to many immigrant communities who have set up a new life in town. This is the premier location for great food, diverse cultures, and fun shops. This area remains firmly Democratic.
Industrial District - This is classic union, democratic machine territory. The unions, which still have not been cleaned up, are dysfunctional, so turnout is bad, but they deliver votes for Quimby in exchange for contracts.
Springfield Harbor - Similar to the industrial district, this is home to labor workers who are tight with Quimby’s administration.
Skid Row - The home of the bums and crack houses, this area is forgotten by the Quimby administration. The handful of residents who bothered to vote cast ballots for Bob, eager for something new.
East Springfield - Almost its own town, this area has never been especially attached to the rest of the city. They always despised Quimby, though, and Bob made campaign efforts there.
West Springfield - The rustic outlands of town. This is a great hideout for outlaws and home to many rural, dirt-poor folks. The area wants little to do with the town politics, but supports any small-government candidates.
Ye Ol’ Springfield - This is the classic historic district of the town, from its original plat. The residents here work to run the tourist sites, and all are academics who remain firmly Democratic.
Fort Fragg - The military base of Springfield, these soldiers did love Bob on TV, but their commanders pushed big for law and order and to keep Quimby, not trusting a felon like Bob.
Oak Grove - This exurb just south of Mt Springfield is a well off and educated district. They used to be more Republican, but Bob’s bombastic style moved them more to Democrats.
Northtown - Similar to oak grove, a fairly well-off suburb that was moving in a more Democratic direction due to the bombastic Bob.
Retirement Castle - The home for the Springfield old folks. While Mayor Quimby promised the “Matlock Expressway”, Bob beat him here by promising the same and spending the day with the old folks, listening to their boring stories.
Springfield University - Those kids hate Bob but also “oh they are both evil” and only a handful showed up to vote.
Riverfront - This is a smaller precinct, largely made up of businesses on the river district. The handful of voters residing here in the cottage houses are classic lefties. They don’t love Quimby, but despise the Republicans.
Waterfront - This suburban, mixed-used “hipster” area resides on the west end of the river. This has become a strong destination for young professional liberals. Like Riverfront, they don’t love Quimby, but would never vote for the Republicans.
Mt. Springfield - Home to more of Springfield’s wealthy elite, this is a small group of houses that adorn the slope. They are not as rich as the celebrities, but still are rich and hate taxes.
Recluse Ranch Estates - A very private community of wealthy power brokers for town. These industry leaders hate high taxes and hate Quimby. These voters heavily financed Bob’s campaign
Springfield Heights - The home to the rich celebrities of Springfield. This includes Krusty’s Mansion and a massive aquarium that sits where late TV actor Troy McClure once lived. The celebrity crowd was less political but also gave Bob their support for tax cuts.
Burns Manor - As a powerful tycoon of the town, Mr Burns was able to easily secure his own voter precinct. As a prominent Republican, he of course voted for Sideshow Bob.
So if all these community supports are legit, what is the fraud? Well the fraud was in one place - the Cemetery. There, Bob netted over 28,000 votes.
The fraud was revealed when Lisa Simpsons went to the hall of records to view the results. There, the clerk handed over the list of who cast a ballot and who the voted for.
“Here you go. The results of last month’s mayoral election, all forty-eight thousand voters and who each one of them voted for.” – Clerk
“I thought this was a secret ballot.” – Lisa
“Meh.” – Clerk
This list, and a hint from Wayland Smithers, revealed that votes were coming out of the cemetery. Notable votes for Bob included Buddy Holly and Lisa’s dead cat.
The fraud was so massive it tilted the results to Bob easily. In reality, when the cemetery votes were removed, Quimby had a narrow win.
While Quimby actually won the race, he came close thanks to weakened support in the urban core and poor turnout in his communities.
The results of the revelation of the fraud meant that the election was overturned. When confronted in the courtroom, Sideshow Bob confessed and made his reasoning clear.
With the results, Bob was sent back to prison - charged with election fraud. Quimby was re-instated as Mayor, a job he continued to suck at for years.
The story was documented in the Reality TV show - “The Simpsons.” The saga of Sideshow Bob’s Mayoral race is titled “Sideshow Bob Roberts” and is Season 6, Episode 000. I recommend it for an even more in depth look at the campaign and the revelations of the fraud.
The solution to stop fraud is clear - end secret ballots!