Every vote counts, so get out there and do your duty
Every once in a while, we read about an election for local office somewhere that has ended in a tie, requiring the flip of a coin, drawing straws, or a roll of the dice to break the tie ” which, if one more person had voted, would not have been a tie. In his recent film, “Swing Vote,” Kevin Costner concocts an improbable scenario that puts an unlikely voter in New Mexico in the position of being the one to break a tie for that state’s five electoral votes, which will determine who will be the next president. Below are four real events in American history when a single vote changed the course of our history.
In 1864, Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, selected Andrew Johnson, a Tennessee Democrat, as his running mate in the hope it would help in the reconciliation between North and South after the end of the Civil War. When Lincoln was assassinated, Johnson inherited Lincoln’s retribution-oriented Republican Cabinet and Congress, with whom he was soon in conflict. When he removed Secretary of War Edwin Stanton without notifying the Senate in advance (an action clearly within his power as president), the House impeached him, and he was tried by the Senate in 1868. Their action was essentially a way of getting revenge for his vetoes of repressive Reconstruction measures passed by the Congress. The Senate fell one vote short of the two-thirds vote needed for conviction.
The Women’s Suffrage movement had its beginnings in a meeting in Seneca Falls, New York, in July of 1848. The first victory came 21 years later, when the Wyoming Territory gave women the right to vote, followed by the Utah Territory a year later.
When Wyoming was admitted as a State in 1890, it became the first state to grant women full political rights, followed by Colorado in 1893, and by thirteen more states over the next 25 years. In 1918, the House of Representatives approved by the necessary two-thirds majority a proposed Constitutional Amendment giving women national voting rights. A similar action in the Senate twice failed to get the required number of votes until it finally succeeded in 1919. The proposed Amendment then went to the state legislatures for ratification. It had to be approved by 36 of the 48 states to be adopted. By August of 1920, 35 states had voted for ratification, and 12 states had voted against. Tennessee’s would be the deciding vote, and it cleared the State Senate by a single vote on August 18, 1920, giving women the right to vote just in time for the 1920 election.
Early in 1944, the Roosevelt Administration was concerned that the ending of World War II would flood the labor market with 16 million returning veterans, creating massive unemployment and unrest like that which followed World War I. The measure they proposed was the GI Bill, which would cover the cost of college or trade school education for all returning veterans, with a year of eligibility for each year of service. The bill handily passed the House, but bogged down in the Senate when a block of Southern Senators opposed it because it would pay for the education of Negroes. In the end, it finally passed in the Senate by a single vote.
Finally, we are all familiar with the presidential election of 2000 between Al Gore and George W. Bush, in which the Supreme Court stepped in to stop the recount of contested ballots in Florida, and declared George W. Bush the winner by a 5-4 vote.
That one vote was all it took to make him the 43rd President of the United States.
So, everyone, be sure to vote, and be sure to look at the ballot carefully and mark it clearly as directed. Make your voice heard by having your vote count. It just might be the vote that determines the outcome.
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That sideline parent is me, parading to the field with a foldable chair, carrying an iced-coffee, armed with a bag of band-aids and a salty vocabulary ready to slay the referee or opponent that meddles…