From Campus Compact
According to an NPR article , it’s not just presidential elections that can be affected by low voter turnout. Despite a massive turnout in the 2018 midterm election, voting in midterm races is traditionally low. The midterm elections in 2014, for example, saw the lowest voter participation in more than 70 years.
But a single vote can make a big difference. In fact, there have been more than a dozen races decided by a single vote or ending in a tie over the last 20 years.
Here’s a look back at some of those and some more of the closest races in U.S. history:
- 2018: The Democratic primary for Baltimore County executive in July was decided by just 17 votes.
- 2017: A Virginia House of Delegates race ended in a tie out of more than 23,000 votes cast. The tie was broken by pulling a name, placed in a film canister, out of a bowl. Republican David Yancey was declared the winner. The result was heightened by the fact that the win gave Republicans control of the state House by a single seat.
- 2016: A Vermont state Senate Democratic primary was determined by a single vote out of more than 7,400 cast.
- 2008: In the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Al Franken defeated Republican Norm Coleman by just 312 votes out of almost 2.9 million votes cast. Franken’s win gave Democrats a 60-vote supermajority in the Senate.
- 2004: A special election in Radford, Va., for commonwealth’s attorney was decided by one vote.
- 1994: A Wyoming state House seat ended in a 1,941-to-1,941 tie on Election Day. The tie was broken, live on NBC’s Today show, with the secretary of state pulling a pingpong ball with the winning candidate’s name on it out of the governor’s hat. The winner went on to become speaker of the state House.
- 1991: A Virginia state House seat was determined by one vote out of almost 13,000 cast.
In the 19th century, there were even a few U.S. House races that were determined by a single vote:
- 1882: VA-1: Robert M. Mayo defeated Democrat George T. Garrison, 10,505 to 10,504.
- 1854: IL-7: Democrat James C. Allen beat Republican William B. Archer, 8,452 to 8,451.
- 1847: IN-6: Whig candidate George G. Dunn defeated Democratic candidate David M. Dobson, 7,455 to 7,454.
- 1847: VA-3: Whig Thomas S.Flournoy won 650 to 649
- 1829: KY-2: Jackson Democrat Nicholas Coleman defeated National Republican Adam Beatty, 2,520 to 2,519.
Of course, none of those is to mention the 537-vote margin that George W. Bush won Florida by in the 2000 presidential election — out of almost 6 million votes cast — or Donald Trump winning the presidency despite losing the popular vote by almost 3 million votes — all because he eked out just enough — 70,000 votes out of 12 million in three states — to win the Electoral College.
For more information about Why Every Vote Matters, please read the NPR article entitled “Why Every Vote Matters – The Elections Decided By A Single Vote (Or A Little More)” by Domenico Montanaro.
Why Does Your Vote Matter?
John Dickerson gives the lowdown on why your vote matters in every election: from current and future policy, to state ballot questions, and more.