ELECTIONS. As defined by the courts an election is the act of choosing a person to fill an office by any manifestation of preference but usually by the vote of those entitled to exercise the elective franchise, as distinguished from appointment to office by a single person or officer, as a ldng, president, governor or mayor. See ApPonrnsvcrs.
Classification of Elections.— If the great body of the voting population decide between candidates, the election is said to be popular or direct If limited to a small number who themselves have been chosen by the mass of voters, the election is said to be indirect or representative. The choice of United States senators by the State legislatures until the 17th Amendment became law is an example of indirect elections. Theoretically the President is elected by the Presidential electors chosen in the various States but in practice these electors vote for the pary candidate. (See &zeroes, UNITED STATES PRESIDENTIAL). Elections are also classified as national, State and municipal, according to the status of the office to be occu pied by the successful candidate.
Early Colonial Elections.— From the earli est colonial days, local officials in New England were chosen in a meeting of the gfreemen," much as they are to-day in town meeting. Prob ably the first elections held in America were of the delegates who attended the Virginia legislative assembly in 1619. The earliest date specified if that of the election of Tofu' Win throp as governor of Massachusetts *by the general consent of the Court,* 18 May 1631. The next in order is the election at Plymouth, 1632-33, although elections were authorized in this colony in 1620 and in the colony of Massa chusetts m 1630, and undoubtedly they were held from that tfine onward. A few years later the records show that elections were conducted by proxy, chosen deputies casting the votes of the freemen at the *court of elections.* Ac cording to some authorities proxies meant us ually the carriage of the votes, at first the bal lots themselves (slips of paper or grains of corn, etc.), and later the records. The history of the process is hard to interpret. In New Hampshire elections were held from 1633 on ward, and in Rhode Island after 1636-38. In Connecticut the earliest election was in 1639; in Maryland 1638. All the southern colonies
except Georgia elected assemblies almost from the start, and summonses for one session were issued in Georgia. In New Amsterdam (now New York) the right to elect its ovni magis trates was long withheld by Director Stuy vesant. *If,* he said (1653), *the nomination and election of magistrates were to be left to the populace who were the most interested, then each one would vote for some one of his own stamp, the thief for a thief, the rogue, the tippler, the smuggler, for a brother of iniquity, that he might enjoy greater latitude in kis vice's and frauds.* In New Jersey elections did not begin till 1668, although authorized in 1665. The first election in Pennsylvania was in 1683. In the Carolinas the first recorded elections were in 1691, but minor elections probably were held as early as 1663. In Georgia all officials were appointed up to 1754.
Antrity to Hold Elections.— To be valid an election must have some lawful author ity behind it; unless the power be expressly granted by the ccrnstitution or by the legislature acting under constitutional authority, the right to hold an election cannot exist or be lawfully exercised. The legislature may prescribe the forms to be thserved in the conduct of elec tions. Laws enacted to ascertain the will of the le at free popular elections mav be manort?ry (such as those setting the day of election, requiring the vote to be by ballot, or establishing places within the designated pre cincts where the election shall be held), or directory (such as provisions prescribing the conduct and return of an election). Minor irregularities in observing the directory laws which do not prevent electors from freely and fairly exercising their right of suffrage or from having their votes properly counted do not vitiate an election, providing such irregularities do not constitute infractions which the law de clares shall nullify an election. Statutes pro viding for the holding of a local election us ually require the presentation to some local authority of a petition signed by the pre_scribed nwnber of qualified persons; when properly presented, the authorities appointed to call the election have no discretion and after the order is issued it is not open to collateral attack.