Abbatial Election of 1927, part I

The results of the voting for an abbatial election are not a matter of public record.  True, non-members of the election chapter know the outcome of the election, that someone was elected, but they do not know with what threshold over the required majority, or even how many ballots it took to attain that majority.  The members of the election chapter, that is, the monks in solemn vows, know, but we are bound to secrecy.  And even the monks know only the balloting and the votes for elections for which they were eligible to vote.

However, because of historical archives work done a couple of decades ago, in preparation for a draft of the abbey’s history, by Jerome Oetgen, and also drawing on archival work I did several years ago for the 75th anniversary of the first abbatial election at Saint Anselm Abbey, we do know the votes and the balloting for that 1927 election.

I’m not sure if these results will be of interest to anyone but political science geeks, but here goes, nonetheless:

In early October 1927 the monks of Saint Anselm Abbey met to elect their first abbot.  There were 22 monks eligible to vote, a two-thirds majority was required for election (or 15 votes), and the balloting could continue until that threshold was reached.  (This is different than the current rules, where the maximum number of ballots is set at six, and a two-thirds majority is only required on the first three ballots.)

On the first ballot:

Vincent Amberg         9

Bertrand Dolan          5

Dominic Scherer         4

Others                         4

On the second ballot:

Vincent Amberg         9

Bertrand Dolan          9

Others                         4

On the third ballot:

Vincent Amberg         10

Bertrand Dolan          8

Others                         4

So there was not a lot of movement  after the first three ballots.  The community would seem to have been deadlocked.  The monks expected the Abbot President to appoint an abbot, but Abbot Ernest Helmstetter refused, preferring to wait until someone reached a two 2/3’s majority.  No one of course had even reached the level of a simple majority of 12 votes.

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2 Responses to Abbatial Election of 1927, part I

  1. Pingback: Abbatial Election of 1927, part II | brotherisaac

  2. Pingback: Abbatial Election of 1927, part III | brotherisaac

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