Election officials in Cyprus have had to reprint 575,000 ballot papers for the presidential election on 17 February after Guinness World Records took exception to one of the candidates using its logo on the form.
Andreas Efstratiou was hoping that voters would be impressed by his claim to fame: that he once held the world record for making the longest train on a wedding gown. Efstratiou, who owns a bridal-wear shop, earned that honour in 2007 by making a gown train that measured 1,362 metres, meaning that, if you had enough bridesmaids and page boys to hand, you could wrap the train more than three times round an athletics track.
Sadly, however, for Efstratiou and Cypriot election officials, he no longer holds the record – which is now held by Lichel van den Ende of the Netherlands, who specialises in what he calls “wearable art”. He made a 2,488-metre train, so his definition of “wearable” is fairly loose. The upshot is that Efstratiou is no longer entitled to use the Guinness World Records logo.
An election commission official said that the government would be asking Efstratiou to pay at least €15,000 to cover the costs of reprinting the ballot papers. A more imaginative electoral commission would surely have demanded that the candidate hurry up and make a wedding train measuring at least 2,500m in length.
This is Efstratiou's third bid for the presidency. He won fewer than 1,000 votes in both 2003 and 2008.
Cyprus does not have a monopoly on difficulties with election documents. Malta's election commission admitted in mid-January that 500,000 voting documents would have to be reprinted because they featured the signature not of the current chief electoral commissioner but that of his predecessor, who left the post five years ago.
Sometimes, even in Malta, the pace of life is so frenzied that it is impossible to keep up.