William Hogarth painted this series of four paintings, the Humours of the Election (@soanemuseum)
Hogarth is best known todat for his pursuit of beauty, but these paintings show quite the opposite and shoe the corruption in the British electoral system. Hogarth was not alone in criticizing the election, and in 1832 the Great Reform Act was passed, ending much of the mishaps. Until that point for example, so-called rotten burroughs held disproportional power. Because suffrage was dependant on property, owners of a lot of property in a small burrough were able to gain (hugely) disproportional representation.
The 1st painting shows a Whig electoral dinner. Outside, the Tories can be seen protesting recent Whig legislature. The Tories protest the rights Jews had been given, and the new, Gregorian calendar. Inside the tavern, the Whigs can be seen acting over-indulgent. The mayor faints after having eaten too many oysters, alcohol is lavishly poored and they are seated as if it were the Last Supper. At this point, the Whigs reigned supreme with the support to and from George II, resulting in about half a century without Tory rule.
The 2nd picture shows both parties canvassing for an innkeeper's vote. Despite women not having suffrage, the Whigs deploy a Jewish caricature to bribe them with jewels and niceties. The British lion devours a French Fleur-de-Lis, but serves as hardly more than the seat of the woman counting her bribe.
In the 3rd scene, polling day can be seen. There was no anonymous vote, and voters were intimidated. The coach in the far left represents Britain, stranded because it has a broken axel. The woman seated in the coach is powerlessly trying to move the drivers to stop gambling and continue onward.
The 4th scene shows the victorious Tory candidate being carried through the streets. A Whig supporter with a bear tries to stop the procession but his bear is pissed on by a chimney sweep on the right hand side. Clearly, the atmosphere is quite divided and turbulent.
Of course Hogarth used satire to drive his point home, but it is a clear indication of the bipartisan state of affairs. Hopefully, today's polling will be less eventful!