Your vote does count
I have talked to a lot of people over the years that refuse to vote because they say their vote doesn’t count.
Or, they say, when so many people vote, one more vote, more or less, isn’t going to matter that much.
My response is always every vote does matter and they shouldn’t throw theirs away by not voting.
For instance, here in Midlothian, a bond regarding parks passed by just twelve votes.
But what’s really interesting is that there were 18 people who simply did not vote on the issue.
What if 13 had voted against it?
Obviously, the bond would have failed by one vote.
One vote out of all those cast.
History is one of my favorite subjects.
I’ve written many times about the importance of history; it’s not so much about the dates but about what happened and the consequences of what happened.
The philosopher Santana said if we ignore history we are bound to repeat it.
But history can also provide some great insight into questions we face every day.
Questions such as, "Should I vote in this election?" "Will my vote make any difference?"
I say the answer to both questions is an unqualified "yes!"
Just to prove the point, let’s go back to the year 1842.
It was a hot, steamy summer afternoon.
Henry Shoemaker was employed as a hired hand and toiling away on a farm in Indiana.
It was Election Day and late in the afternoon he remembered he had not voted but had promised his vote to a Democrat named Madison Marsh.
If Shoemaker believed, as many do, his vote wouldn’t count he could be forgiven if he ducked his civic duty and broken that promise.
After all, Marsh probably would never know.
But, he didn’t.
He saddled his horse, rode to the polling place and cast his ballot.
As a result of that vote, Madison Marsh was elected … by one vote.
Now, since ballots are supposed to be secret, how do we know how Henry Shoemaker voted?
Well, the reason we know is Shoemaker’s vote was a contested ballot.
The voting ticket he had did not list all the candidates he wanted to vote for so he took his knife and cut the names from four different tickets in order to cast his ballot.
The voting inspector at the polls threw out Henry’s improvised ballot, which resulted in a tie.
After numerous hearings and much lengthy testimony, Henry Shoemaker’s vote was allowed, the tie was broken, and Madison Marsh was elected.
Remember, back then U.S. Senators were elected by state legislatures.
In January of 1843, Marsh and his fellow Indiana lawmakers got together just for that purpose, to elect a Senator.
On the sixth ballot and after much political maneuvering, Marsh changed his vote electing Democrat Edward Hannigan to the United States Senate – by one vote.
Now, let’s jump ahead to 1846 where a sharply divided U.S. Senate was debating whether or not to declare war on Mexico.
A caucus vote was deadlocked on the matter.
An absent Senator Edward Hannigan was called.
He cast his vote in favor of war.
One of the results of that war was that California changed hands from Mexico to the United States.
Senator Edward Hannigan also cast the deciding vote to give statehood to Texas.
So, if Henry Shoemaker had not gone to the polling place that day in 1842, and by one vote elected Madison Marsh, it is possible that neither Texas nor California would be part of the United States today.
Henry Shoemaker had no idea of the impact of his one vote or the events he was setting in motion when he went to the polls that day.
He never thought his one vote would make the difference between war and peace or the eventual statehood of two of our largest states.
The American presidential election in 1876 was one of the closest in history and Rutherford B. Hayes won over Samuel Tilden by a single vote, creating a Constitutional crisis and almost causing another Civil War.
The final vote in the Electoral College was 185 to 184.
In 1948, just one additional vote in each precinct would have elected Thomas Dewey.
In 1976, less then one vote in each precinct in Ohio could have elected Gerald Ford. President Thomas Jefferson was elected president by one vote in the Electoral College as was John Quincy Adams.
But now that you do know, as Paul Harvey says, "the rest of the story," never again assume your vote doesn’t count.
Any time you are given the opportunity, go to the polls and cast your vote.
It could have enormous, and perhaps even unintended, consequences.