Trigger Snowflake and the Election

By Ingvar: Coraline came up the stairs, just as Trigger took a sip of coffee. The DripMatic 3000 had been behaving oddly the last week, but today’s coffee was pretty good. Well on the right side of “drinkable”, at least.

Trigger put his cup down, as he saw Coraline wave a paper in the air.

“Trigger!” she said, “Look at this! Look who’s standing for president!”

Trigger swallowed his coffee. “But, Coraline, the presidential election isn’t for another four years.”

“Oh, sorry. Not for the Solar System. Just for the Solarian Poets’ Society.”

*    *    *

We now take our omniscient view back a week or so in time, to see how the candidacy that upset Coraline started.

Charles Tayroth woke up, bright and early, just before brunch, as he normally did. This day, unlike most days, he was pondering the upcoming election for the SPS board. “I am a successful poet.”, he thought. “I am a winner. I should clearly be the new president of the SPS.”

With thought and deed being one, he rapidly declared his standing for election.

I, Charles Tayroth, will be standing for president for the Solarian Poet’s Society. I am the most logical choice, because I am rich and successful. I even once won the Best Services to the Poetic Arts. Based on this, you would be a fool to vote for anyone else.

Remember, when it is time to mark your candidate, anything but marking Charles Tayroth for president is foolish and misled. Vote me. Make the Solar System Poetic!

*    *    *

“But, beloved Coraline, who is this Mr Tayroth?”

“Trigger, dear, do you remember, back a while ago, when me and Barbara were upset over the Poetry Of All Of Us win, and what came after? Well, Tayroth is the one who ended up declaring himself the sole reason for the win, and misusing logos for pins, embroidered shirts and other merchandise.”

“That doesn’t necessarily sound like the best person to head a trade association for poets.”

“You are so right. I will need to go speak to Barbara, immediately.”

*    *    *

As Coraline entered the Coffee Emporium, she was met not only by the delicious smell of freshly brewed coffee, but also some strong words and a flung newspaper.

“Barbara? What is happening?”

“Oh, Coraline, the most awful thing. Charles Tayroth is standing for SPS president. Something clearly must be done. But, I do not know what.”

“It is beginning to become clear to me. We need to get a second candidate to stand. Someone who is more liked by poets in general, and who has a chance to win. Someone like you, Barbara.”

“No, Coraline, I could not possibly do that. What would happen to the Emporium, were I to become president of the SPS? I would not have enough time to oversee all the roasting and synthecheese printing. You know how much work it is. And you were possibly even more involved in writing letters of comment than I was.”

“It is a thorny problem, Barbara. Let us sit down with a cup of something to fuel our thoughts.”

*    *    *

“Anna, have you seen? Charles Tayroth is standing for president of the SPS!”

“I have, Rick. It is a wondrous thing. While not a Sulphurian, he has at least showed himself sympathetic to the Sulfurian creed. There is no possible chance that he will lose.”

“I will take it upon myself to spread the good word, to every single poet within venostationary orbit. Personally, if needs be. I will ensure that I do all I can to safeguard Tayroth’s future presidency.”

                    *    *    *

Olaus Frond dropped the newsletter from his surprisingly uncooperative hand. Normally, he had no problem holding on to multiple sheets of paper, but what he just read was so out of the normal that minor bodily malfunctions was a small price to pay.

It was, nonetheless, time for a sharply worded letter of comment.

Charles Tayroth standing for the SPS presidency – an unprecedented crisis in poetry?

   By Flapping-in-the-wind Leaves

   This morning, I saw something that I could not even have anticipated in my most febrile nightmares. Charles Tayroth has declared his candidacy for the presidency of the Solarian Poets’ Society. And at this point, he is standing unopposed.

   To most of us, Charles Tayroth is only known as a businessman. To some of us, he is also known as the person who sullied the collective win of POAOU a while back, by trying to make it his win. To me, and a small number of others, Tayroth is a cruel abuser, who kicks those who happen to have fallen down in his vicinity and, if they haven’t fallen on their own accord, will happily push and trip them.

   I know, because I am one of those he has pushed, tripped, kicked and generally abused. I have hesitated to say something. I am not actually sure why, in retrospect. Maybe my silence has helped him get further than he deserves. But, no longer. My love for SPS is greater than my fear of personal ridicule.

   I am not in a position to stand for the presidency myself, but what we need at this point is a candidate everyone can get behind. Someone with impeccable organizational skills and a good reputation in poetry.

*    *    *

Barbara Dimatis sat down, head between her hands, elbows on the table, almost pressing down. She had just finished reading the letter of comment from Flapping-in-the-wind, and was now in visible distress.

She walked from her office, towards the entrance of the Emporium. “Sophonta, I will be out for a while. You’re in charge.”

She turned left and walked up Main Street. After a few minutes, she reached the Sheriff’s Office, where she paused, hand raised as if ready to knock.

A few seconds later, she knocked on the door, first hesitantly, but by the third knock, it was a firm, almost urgent, knocking.

The door opened. In front of her stood Sheriff Snowflake.

“Ms Dimatis? What a surprise. How can the Sheriff’s Office help you today?”

“Oh, Trigger, I need to speek to Coraline, urgently. You have no idea.”

“Certainly, won’t you come in and sit down, I will tell her that you have arrived.”

Trigger walked up the stairs. Muted voices filtered down from upstairs, but Barbara could not rightly say what was being said, even if the tone was calm and relaxed. As she fidgeted, Coraline came down the stairs.

“Barbara? What’s wrong? Trigger said you seemed upset? Won’t you come upstairs?”, the two women started towards the upper floor. “I won’t offer you coffee, you can have much better at the Emporium and I know that. But, dear, sit down and I can offer you a small sherry, it is good for the nerves and from the looks of you, a pre-noon sherry is exactly what the Doctor would order.”

“Barbara, have you read the latest from Flapping-in-the-Wind Leaves? He has accurately described the whole Tayroth situation. It is a big problem. I fear that SPS will fall down around us, unless something is done.”

“No, Barbara, I have not. Did you bring a copy?”

“I brought the whole issue. Here it is, right there. Read it, please.”

Coraline took the magazine and quietly read, while Barbara took a cautious sip of sherry.

“You are right, Barbara, this is worse than I thought. But, who could we possibly find on short notice, with extensive experience in organizing, as well as an active connection to poetry and the arts?”

“I don’t know, for sure. But, I just had a sudden idea.”

“Do tell, do tell.”

“It just occured to me that you have been on the board, now, for multiple SysLiCons. You also have a proven passion for the arts.”

“What? Me? I could not possibly…”

“Let me get a semi-independent second opinion. Trigger?! Could you come up here? We need your advice.”

Several seconds later, Trigger appeared in the kitchen.

“What advice, Barbara?”

“Well, you know the whole Solarian Poets’ Society presidency election thing?”

“Yes, some Treerot standing, wasn’t it?”

“Tayroth, yes. Well, it turns out he’s even less suitable for president than we thought. And he is still standing unopposed. And without a suitable candidate, with organizational experience, a good reputation in the arts, as well as an active love for the world of poetry, the SPS is basically doomed.”

“Sounds like it. Well, I can think of a few that fits that bill, off the top of my head. Barbara, have you considered…”

“Yes, I have. But, that would mean giving up the Emporium and at this point I am not quite ready for that.”

“Well, the second name that occurs, not because it is necessarily better nor worse, just later in the alphabet is my beloved Coraline. What do you think? Would that be something that would suit you?”

Coraline’s jaw dropped. “What? But? What? No? I mean, yes. But? How much time would it take? Could I possibly…”

“Coraline, darling. It is for the betterment of the arts. I was a single sheriff before I met you and should this take enough time that you would find yourself unable to do all the small things that we jointly have become accustomed to, well, it just means I have to do a bit more. Or that things stay undone. I definitely think that you should consider it.”

*    *    *

“This meeting of the Elemental Smartalec Group is declared open. Anna, could you report on Tayroth’s campaign?”

“We have a second candidate, Coraline Snowflake. But, as we all know, she is deeply unpopular and thus has no chance of winning. Tayroth’s presidency is all but guaranteed.”

“Excellent. We will finally have the president that poets and artists demand. Do we have any contingency plans?”

“Based on the numbers, we don’t need any. A poll last week had a reassuring 100% vote for Tayroth. As I said, despite a new candidate in the field, our victory is all but guaranteed.”

*    *    *

Barbara finished off counting the last few entries on the pre-election poll. Based on the latest polling, Coraline would win by a comfortable margin. A full 68.3% of the SPs electorate had a preference for Snowflake for President. She looked up from the results sheet.

“Coraline? Almost 7 out of 10 prefer you for president. I would consider it time to start writing your acceptance speech. It is by no means a guarantee, but two weeks ago, you were polling at around 30% and now you’re well into a majority. It is of course just a poll, but we may just pull this off.”

“I am so nervous, Barbara. I am almost as afraid of winning as I am of losing. But, yes, I will cautiously start writing my acceptance speech, that is good advice.”

*    *    *

The Solarian Poets’ Society Presidential Election – A Report

    This presidential election campaign is unprecedented. For the first time ever have the SPS stood with a single candidate for president for over half the campaign period.

   When the campaign started, only Mr Charles Tayroth was standing for candidate. But, just over halfway through the campaign period, a second candidate, Mrs Coraline Snowflake, entered the field, campaigning on a basis of proven volunteering within the field of poetry.

       Now that the election is over and the votes have been counted, it is the pleasure of the Electoral Committee to present the results.

    Runner-up, with 6.06% of the vote, is Mr Charles Tayroth. Winner, with 92.24% of the vote, is Mrs Coraline Snowflake. In total 1.7% were write-in candidates, blank or otherwise spoiled votes.

 *    *    *

Slem ven Pocketry dropped the official election results on the table, “This is an outrage. How can Tayroth possibly have gone from an assured win, to a humiliating defeat in only a few months? This makes no sense.”

John ven Fengsler cleared his throat, “Slem, you know as well as I do that numbers do not lie. In the polling, Tayroth had close to all the votes. The only explanation possible here is election fraud. You’re well-versed in the law. Is there anything we can do?”

“Hm, well, we can probably show election fraud. And that’s illegal. Not as illegal as in an official election. But, yes, I am pretty sure we have room to bring a law suit to the SPS election board. We should probably also tell Tayroth that he’s not lost because election fraud. This all makes sense. John, could you ask Anna min Scortch, Rick ven Fleerbo and possibly a few others to start working on slogans and memes?”

   *    *    *

Emmanuel Lilyberg opened his front door, “Lilyberg, what do you want?”

“We have a package for you, if you could sign here?”

Manny signed and brought the package into his home. He had a nagging feeling this was related to all the false rumours going around related to the SPS election. Deep down, he knew that accepting the position as chair of the electoral board would eventually have come to this.

He opened the package. It wasn’t even a good law suit, definitely pre-used and still whiffing slightly of the dry-cleaning fumes. Hopefully, the legal matter would be better. Thankfully, he was in a good position to make an estimate of the chances of the opposing side taking the matter home.

    A suit of law, brought from the Campaign for Tayroth for Solarian Poets’ Society President against the Solarian Poets’ Society Electoral Board.

       We, the Campaign for Tayroth for Tayroth for Solarian Poets’ Society (hereafter “the Campaign”) bring this law suit against the Solarian Poets’ Society Electoral Board (hereafter “the board”) for malicious interference in election, electoral fraud, and the stealing of the presidency of the Solarian Poets’ Society (hereafter “SPS”).

   We have ample evidence that this is the case. In exhibit A, we demonstrate that in a polling on Soldate 17-5, every single polled individual who stated a preference preferred Tayroth as president of the SPS. It is thus not mathematically possible for Coraline Snowflake to have gained over 90% of the vote a mere four months later.

   We will demonstrate how the board interfered with the free will of the electorate. We will show how they maliciously transferred votes from Tayroth to Snowflake. We will demonstrate that they were indeed up to no good at all.

     *    *    *

A few days later, Manny walked over to the court room where the case would be heard. At least, living on Luna, it was easy to get to the central court.

He seemed to be among the first to arrive, the plaintiff had yet to show up. Manny sat down in the Defendant’s Section and waited.

Within a few minutes, everyone had arrived. Slem ven Pocketry seemingly representing the plaintiff. But, at least this time there were no yellow capes signalling Sulphur allegiance.

“Let it be known that Honourable Judge Baycove is in the court. This court is now in session for The Charles Tayroth Campaign for President of the Solarian Poets’ Society v The Solarian Poets’ Society Electoral Board, in a matter of election shenaniganery. Is the plaintiff present?”

“Aye!”, said ven Pocketry, rapidly standing up. “Well, a representative for,” then sat down again.

“Plaintiff is present. Is the defendant present?”

“Aye”, Manny sat down again.

“Defendant is present. I can see that both plaintiff and defendant are not advised by advocates. We have not had a preliminary hearing. The purpose of this session is first and foremost to establish the truth. Based on that truth, we will determine where guilt lies. After that, this court will dispense justice, retribution and corrective measures as it sees fit. Any questions?”

No one spoke, for a few seconds. The judge checked the documents in front of her.

“The Court calls Slem ven Pocketry, Venusian and representative for the Tayrorth Campaign, that is clear enough for now. Please take the witness stand and place your hand on the truth sensors. Please tell us your version of the events. You will be under oath. The truth sensors will signal any perjury, which is punishable all the way up to imprisonment. Please now proceed to the witness stand.”

Hands on the sensors embedded in the railing, ven Pocketry cleared his throat. “I am one of the people who have been working for the Tayroth Campaign. We have seen the Tayroth popularity go from overwhelming in polling to devastatingly low in the actual election. We put forth that this can only be explained by election fraud, in various forms.”

The judge’s gaze wandered across the court room. “Would the defense like to cross-examine at this point?”

“Gladly, your Honour. This over-whelming polling, when was that?”

“It would have been about five months ago?”

“Could the overwhelmingness of the Tayroth polling at that time be explained by Tayroth being the only candidate standing for president at that point? And the decline then be explained by a second candidate, offering a choice between candidates?”

“It is simply not mathematically possible that people would change their preferred candidate.”

“Again, going back to this poll, about five months ago. Could you present it in full?”

“Tayroth was overwhelmingly popular?”

“As it happens, I ordered a copy of the full report from the polling firm. Looking at this breakdown, it seems the actual numbers are 15% for Tayroth, 30% for ‘I will spoil my vote.’ and 55% for ‘if he wins, I will leave the SPS.’ Could this not explain things?”

“Note that the 85% of spoiled votes would not count. This is 100% of the valid votes being for Tayroth. Not mathematically possible!”

“The defense would like to enter this polling document into the evidence. We don’t think we need to do more to demonstrate our innocence in this matter.”

The judge gazed at ven Pocketry in silence. As the Venusian started to squirm, she spoke. “The Plaintiff can leave the witness stand. This court is now ready to pronounce judgment.”

When everyone were back in their assigned seats, she continued. “In the matter of the Tayroth Campain v The Electoral Board, we find that the plaintiff has a sufficiently vague grasp of basic statistics and such a tenuous connection to consensus reality that we cannot put a perjury claim on them. However, we also find that the Electoral Board is completely free of any wrong-doing. In the interest of the legal system, anyone involved in the Tayroth Campaign is hereby instructed to not raise any matter involving mathematics without at least three independent mathematicians checking their basic assumptions. This case is dismissed, with prejudice. For the Court, Judge Baycove presiding.”

1 thought on “Trigger Snowflake and the Election

  1. This is one of those taht took a long time to finally come together. The initial inspiration was when C U L stood for some post in SFWA back in the early days of the pandemic. This is, pretty much, where teh bulk of the story comes from. But, I did not have any sensible way of wrapping the story up, which (alas) the US provided beginning of January 2021.

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