Little House on the Prairie

The Election

Season 3, Ep 21, Aired 3/21/77
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  • Episode Description
  • When it comes time to elect a new classroom president, Mary and Nellie are first to compete for the position. To even things out a bit, the boys strategically elect a shy, mentally delayed classmate named Elmer Dopkins. The trouble is, Elmer's overprotective father is fully aware of the boys' ulterior motives, but how far can a parent go to protect their bullied child?

  • Cast & Crew
  • Melissa Gilbert

    Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

  • Melissa Sue Anderson

    Mary Amelia Ingalls/Kendall (1974 - 1981)

  • Richard Bull

    Nels Oleson

  • Charlotte Stewart

    Miss Eva Beadle/Mrs. Simms (1974 - 1978)

  • Michael Landon

    Charles Ingalls (1974 - 1982)

  • Fan Reviews (3)
  • Elmer is a slow-witted schoolboy, nominated by bullies on a lark to be class president. Can he actually win?

    By ceosmom, Oct 24, 2006

  • It's time to elect a Class President and the race is between Mary, Nellie and Elmer Dopkins, a shy boy who is always being teased by those fellows who are older and stronger than he is.

    By Lady_Lancaster, Apr 19, 2011

  • A slow-witted classmate of Laura and Mary's becomes the victim of the school bullies who nominate him to run for class president.

    By DrCook920, Sep 15, 2008

  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (6)

    • Sam: (about Elmer) Just because a boy doesn't take to books is no reason to hold him up to shame. It may have been a mistake to enroll him at school here. Ellen: He wants to go, Sam. Sam: Yeah, like a little chicken that wants to run with the flock and get pecked to death.

    • Miss Beadle: (tallying the president votes for Nellie and Elmer) Well, it looks like we have a two-way tie. Mary: But it can't be. We're supposed to have 25 votes. Nellie: That's right. We'll have to wait. My brother went to the outhouse. (Willie comes back in) Miss Beadle: Willie, you didn't vote. Willie: No, ma'am. Miss Beadle: Well, would you mind? We're waiting. (Willie writes down a name, folds up paper, puts it in voting jar) Laura? Laura: (looks at paper, smiles) Elmer Dopkins! Nellie: Willie! How could you? Willie: Because you're always picking on me, that's why! And Elmer won't let you!

    • Miss Beadle: Elmer, I want you to go home and clean up. You can come back and make your speech, and we'll vote this afternoon. Elmer: It's all right, Miss Beadle. I ain't running for nothing. My Pa don't want me to. Besides, me running for class president.....we all know that's a joke. (the other kids laugh) Miss Beadle: Class! Elmer: Go ahead and laugh. I know I'm not smart like you. I don't even know what a class president is supposed to do. But I know what's right and wrong, and it ain't right for big kids to be picking on little kids, just because they think it's fun to hurt somebody. And it ain't right to give someone something to make them vote for you, just because some folks have got more money than others. It ain't right to make fun of people, push them in mud, and make them look silly. My mother made me this shirt, because she loves me. You probably all think that's dumb. That's what wrong around here. People don't pay no mind to other people's carings. I hope that whoever is President sees to it that the little kids aren't picked on or hurt, because it's not right. It's just not right.

    • Sam: We've got to have a little talk. Now, what were those two boys doing to you in the schoolyard today? (long pause) Hmm? Elmer: They were just making jokes. Sam: Yeah, your "friends." The two who were gonna help you get elected. Elmer: Yeah. Sam: Well, I heard the part about you eating worms, and enough more to know that they're not your friends! Elmer: They didn't mean no harm. Sam: That's your idea, but mine's different.

    • Sam: I'm gonna talk to their parents in the morning. Elmer: Pa, please! Please don't. It'll just make things worse. Sam: What they're doing to you now, how can it be worse? Elmer: Please, Pa. It just will.

    Show More Quotes

    Notes (1)

    • In the episode "Journey in the Spring", which aired shortly before this one, Charles' visiting father fixed up the soddy, even adding a front porch with overhead rails and hanging plants. In this episode, however, the soddy looks as old and run down as ever, though the remnants of the porch rails can be seen.

    Trivia (6)

    • Michael Landon, Jr. plays Jim in this episode. He's the blonde boy who nominates Mary for class president. According to Melissa Sue Anderson, Michael Jr. had quite a crush on her at the time.

    • The fireplace at Elmer's house looks exactly like the fireplace in the Ingalls house. The same sets were probably used for both houses, with everything just moved around to make it look different. But if you watch closely, you can tell they look the same.

    • Goof: There are supposedly 25 votes for class president, but there's only 20 children shown in class.

    • Leslie Landon, daughter of Michael Landon, plays the role of one of the school children in this episode--the tall girl who sides with Nellie in the election in exchange for candy. Leslie Landon appears several times on the show, in every season except Season 2, 4, 5, and 7.

    • The name Elmer is used for another unfortunate schoolmate in a Season 8 episode called "For the Love of Nancy." In that episode, Elmer is an overweight student teased by everyone and manipulated by Nancy Oleson.

    Show More Trivia

    Allusions (2)

    • In reference to Nellie and her political tactics, Laura quips, "Bossy Nellie Tweed's at it again!" This is a clear reference to "Boss" Tweed, a crooked New York politician who went to jail for corruption in the 1800's.

    • Charles tries to cheer Mary up about the election and reminds her that "Hayes won by one vote." This is an allusion to Rutherford B. Hayes winning a bitterly disputed presidential election by one vote in 1876, after the outcome was turned over to a special congressional commission.

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