It is a phrase heard all too often… “I’m just one vote”. Or “It’s not like my vote counts”. Or even, “They already have decided who will win anyway and voting doesn’t matter”. Have you heard anyone say this? Have you said this?
Sometimes people are disinterested in the political process and use the excuse to not vote. Other times they are too busy or lazy to get out on Election Day and vote. Maybe they have gotten burned by someone they supported in the past and decided to take a laissez faire approach to future political elections.
The problem with these attitudes is that there have been many times in the history of the United States that 1 vote would have changed the outcome of an election. In fact, this exact scenario played out this past year in the state of Virginia. In the 2017 Virginia House of Delegates (the state equivalent to the U.S. House of Representatives), the final vote tally, after several recounts, was a tie. David Yancey (R) was tied with Shelly Simmonds (D), both garnering 11,618 votes of the 23,891 ballots cast. A 3rd party Libertarian candidate Michael Bartley took the remaining 675 votes. The tie was settled by a random drawing out of a bowl, where Yancey’s name was chosen at random to claim the election.
There have been 12 elections or primaries in the history of the United States that have ended in a tie. Furthermore, there have been at least 26 times that 1 single vote has separated the winner from the loser. While it isn’t extremely common to have these results, it is always possible to have a very close race with a statistically small margin that separates the candidates in the end. One single vote for or against can always change the outcome.
Imagine if you will, the power that the people would have if they inform themselves on the issues and the candidates, then use that knowledge to choose the best candidate that represents their values and beliefs. Currently, the voter turnout in America is quite low for an established democracy. During presidential election years, the turnout has averaged about 60% over the last 100 years, but that number is drastically lower, about 40%, for midterm elections, where the entire U.S. House of Representatives are up for election, as well as 1/3 of the U.S. Senate and many other local races.
Below is a chart showing voter turnout for each state in the 2016 elections. Minnesota ranked 1st in voter turnout with 74.70% of the eligible voters turning out to vote. Hawaii ranked last with 42.50% turnout.
The 15th and 24th Amendments of the United States Constitution guarantee every citizen the right to vote. The Founding Fathers and those who have come after them fought and many died to give you that right. Even if you are a Republican in a deep blue state, or a Democrat in a deep red state, you have been given this right to vote for your elected officials and the political majority should not dictate your inclination to punch your ballot. One single vote can make the difference; will that vote be yours?