Studies have shown only one of every 100,000 votes cast in federal elections, and one of every 15,000 votes cast at the state legislative level “mattered in the sense that they were cast for a candidate that officially tied or won by one vote.” At first glance that might reinforce the idea that there is no sense in going out to the polls on election day, and voting is a waste of time and effort.
But in Lincoln County last month, just such a close race took place. By the end of last week, officials were able to confirm that a single voter made the difference in a race between two Democratic candidates for the House of Delegates. Every vote truly does count. But with patterns of lower and lower voter turnout demonstrating a sad level of disinterest across the country, the number of votes being counted has become far from a representation of constituencies at large.
In five months, voters will again be asked to make decisions that will affect all of us. That is plenty of time to read up on the candidates and issues and make informed decisions. Surely there will be greater voter interest at that time.
But, of course, one can never tell when and where a single vote will make the difference in an election. Informed voters owe it to themselves and everyone else to behave as though they will, indeed, cast the ballot that makes that difference. Just ask Gary McCallister, who won his primary race by such a narrow margin.
“When people say their votes don’t matter, this is proof that every vote matters,” he said.
Do your research, take your responsibilities seriously, and then, most importantly, get out and vote.