Every Vote Really Does Count

Every Vote Really Does Count

November’s election was not good for Virginia Republicans. Their 66-seat majority in the 100-member House of Delegates fell dramatically. To 50 or 51, depending on whether the equivalent of a coin flip comes up heads or tails. Really.

If anyone believes that their vote does not count, they should move to Newport News.

After the polls closed on November 7, the GOP was left with 51 House seats, but four races were especially close. Only ten votes separated incumbent David Yancey and challenger Shelly Simonds. Although three contests stayed Republican, a recount transferred the victory to Simonds. By one vote. Then a state court awarded a disputed ballot—one ballot—to Yancey, tying the race.

Which under state law now must be decided by lot. But the result does not just determine who represents the 94th House district. The victor in turn decides who controls the House. At 51, the GOP would retain a wafer-thin majority. At 50-50 the two parties would have to forge an unprecedented power-sharing agreement.

Such is the power of one vote in Newport News, Virginia.

Of course, this race is not the only one ever decided by one vote. In 1971 another Virginia delegate race was tied and in 1991 a Virginia delegate won by one vote. Last year a Mississippi House contest also ended up tied. In 1974 a U.S. Senate race yielded a victory margin of two votes. But none of them determined control of a legislative body.

Moreover, we don’t vote in isolation.

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The 1960 presidential race was extremely close. If just one or two more Republicans turned out in every precinct across the land. Richard Nixon would have defeated John F. Kennedy in the popular vote.

Even more dramatic was the 2000 presidential race. George W. Bush was certified victor in Florida by…

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