Friday, April 07, 2006

One Vote

Some folks will tell you a single vote doesn't count. They will discount the impact of an individual, claiming that power comes only in numbers. Such people might do well to read the News-Gazette from time to time. The following editorial appeared yesterday, and it highlights the importance of the individual ballot caster.

The importance of one vote

Thursday April 6, 2006

At least one person who voted absentee in last month's County Board District 9 Democratic Party primary didn't return the ballot in the required certified envelope so her vote wasn't counted. At least one person who wanted to vote in the primary was prohibited from doing so because she had already signed a petition for a Republican Party candidate. At least 114 Democrats showed up at the polls on March 21 but either voted for none of the four county board candidates, or just one of them when they could have voted for two. And thousands of other voters in Urbana and rural areas outside of Urbana didn't bother to vote in the race.

So when all of the official vote-counting was finished Tuesday, two weeks after Election Day, the results in the four-way race for two seats showed Steve Beckett with 806 votes, Bob Kirchner with 762 votes and Lisa Bell and Barbara Wysocki with 792 votes each. For many weeks before the election there were predictions that the race would be close, but no one had predicted it would end in a tie.

The flip of a 25-cent piece determined that Wysocki would join Beckett on the November ballot as the Democratic nominees in District 9. After all the strategy sessions, the door-to-door campaigning and the effort to get out the vote on Election Day, a coin, not a live voter, decided who was a winner and who was a loser.

When the next Election Day comes on Nov. 7 and you think you're too busy to vote, or someone tells you that your vote won't matter, think of Lisa Bell and Barbara Wysocki and how they offered themselves as candidates for public office, but that the flip of a coin separated the winner from the loser.

"Surely constituents have significant voice collectively...Fact is, a person can't change the outcome of an election. Only people can do that."
-Josh Reed, Student Represntative, Champaign Liquor Commission


Anonymous reed said...

Well, I suppose I was wrong on that end, at least for some elections where the vote tallies are small enough. I will say though, that this vote did not decide a representative. It decided who would get a party endorsement.

I don't know how many people vote in mayor & councilmen elections. The analogy might hold (say, if the winners received less than 900 votes or so), it might not (if we're dealing with 2,000 votes).

But thanks for reeling in my rashness. Keep in mind however, my claim was a factual (albeit, incorrect), not normative. In other words, it wasn't born out of arrogance.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous mrscake said...

I'd actually cared about the outcome of the race, so I'd left work earlier than usual to make it to my usual polling place before it closed. But when I arrived at the place I'd voted for the last several years, nobody was there. It turned out that my polling place had been moved, and it was too late for me to vote. Oh well, one vote probably wouldn't have made that much difference, right? Wrong.

4:33 PM  

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