Think one vote doesn’t matter? Think again
In the 1982 Colorado Statehouse race, 12 votes put challenger Scott McInnis into office, and look at what those 12 voters set into motion.McInnis, R-Grand Junction, rose through the ranks for the next eight years, and his party elected him House majority leader in 1990 and 1992. From that springboard, McInnis, a Glenwood Springs native, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992.Today, McInnis is a member of the powerful U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, only the third Colorado member of Congress named to that committee in 40 years.McInnis is also chairman of the House Resources subcommittee on Forest Health and Forests, and a congressional advisor to the North American Treaty Organization.Twelve votes set McInnis on his political path.A few votes one way or the other have decided other elections, and affected history for years to come. That’s what happened when John F. Kennedy defeated Richard M. Nixon for the presidency in 1960. Kennedy won by just one vote per precinct in Illinois, according to the League of Women Voters. Had Kennedy not received those votes, Nixon would have won the state of Illinois and the 26 electoral votes that came with it, and won the presidency.Here are some other close elections compiled by the League of Women Voters:-In 1839, Marcus Morton was elected governor of Massachusetts by one vote out of the 102,066 that were cast.-In 1876, the Electoral College elected Rutherford B. Hayes president by one vote. The man who cast the deciding vote was an Indiana congressman who was also elected by one vote.-In 1950, a state senator from Garrett County, Md., won his race by one vote – 3,080 to 3,079.-In New Hampshire’s 1974 U.S. Senate race, Louis Wyman was first announced as winner by 542 votes. After a recount, John Durkin was certified the winner by 10 votes. Later, the decision was reversed and Wyman declared the winner by two votes. After a year of court battles, Durkin won in a special election.It’s not at all unprecedented for elections to end in ties.In the Fife Lake Township, Mich., supervisor race in 2000, incumbent Dave Stremlow and challenger Toni Larson each received 297 votes, according to a news story on the CNN network. To determine a winner, the town relied on a 1954 state statute that calls for a lottery to make the final call. The county clerk flipped a coin to determine which candidate would draw first from a box holding slips of paper. One read “elected” and the other read “not elected.” Larson, the challenger, won the toss and the draw, and was named winner.”This is bizarre,” Larson said after winning.”This is the democratic way,” Stremlow said as he hurried away.In New Mexico, according to the Chicago Sun Times, ties have been decided with a coin flip, by cutting cards, and or dealing a hand of poker.In accordance with Colorado state statues, ties are broken with a lottery. Secretary of State spokeswoman Lisa Duran said the lottery can be conducted by drawing straws, flipping a coin or cutting a deck of cards for the high card.”But the candidates can’t play a hand of poker,” Duran said. “We had a case like that in Black Hawk.”Judging from letters to the editor, Garfield County races could be close, especially the sheriff and county commissioner race. There are approximately 25,000 active voters in Garfield County, according to Garfield County Clerk and Recorder Mildred Alsdorf.Alsdorf said she’s hoping for at least a 50 percent turnout, which would translate to 12,250 votes.Who knows? 12 votes either way out of 12,250 could make a difference. It’s happened before.
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The victim in a domestic violence-related shooting in downtown Glenwood Springs in April died in November, raising the possibility for first-degree murder charges against the shooter.