First and foremost, Happy Election Day! It’s a special day, and a great opportunity to celebrate America. But on your way to the party — or, you know, to class — do democracy a little favor, and get out and vote.
Articles and blog posts appear every year that offer scores of excellent reasons to take five minutes of your very busy day to vote. So I’m not going to bore you. I’m not going to inundate with data describing just how important your vote is (or even casually threaten you).
Instead, I’m just going to leave these here…
Vote total: 5,758
Vote margin: 0 (0%)
Deets: Kenneth Howard Jr. won a four-year term with a lucky call on the deciding coin toss (which was, for you trivia fans, done with a 50-cent piece).
Spin: This was a tie. A literal tie that happened just months ago. Like, Joe thinking, “Eh, I’d rather just stay home and catch up on The Good Wife,” was the deciding factor in this election.
Vote total: 2,340
Vote margin: 0 (0%)
Deets: Republicans William Payne and Scott Glasrud split the votes exactly in this state Senate primary. Glasrud called heads in the coin toss, but the quarter landed on tails, handing victory to Payne.
Spin: ANOTHER TIE. FOR A STATE SENATE SEAT. YOU DO MATTER!!
United States Senate, NH (1974)
Vote total: 223,363
Vote margin: 2 (0.00000895%)
Deets: On Election Day, Republican Louis Wyman declared victory with a margin of just 355 votes; the state ballot commission tabulated disputed ballots and found that Wyman had indeed won — by just two votes. But Democrat John Durkin petitioned the Senate to review the case and a new election was called for the next year, which Durkin handily won.
Spin: This is a little further back than the other examples I included, but it’s a U.S. Senate seat. A U.S. Senate seat decided by you and your roommate taking a study break to make that arduous trek down to the street to the public library.
Total votes: 9,594
Vote margin: 2 (0.0002085%)
Deets: It took a recount to determine that Republican Todd Thomsen had prevailed over Democrat Darrel Nemecek for the open Oklahoma House seat by just a couple of votes.
Spin: Incidentally, I may name my firstborn son Darrel Nemecek. Kind of a bamf name, dude.
Total votes: 10,035
Vote margin: 4 (0.000399%)
Deets: Incumbent Republican Mike Kelly was up by 1 vote over Democratic opponent Karl Kassel on Election Day. A recount ballooned his lead by 400%… to 4 votes.
Spin: This is a smaller margin than, like, your freshman suite in Vandy!
Total votes: 233,286
Vote margin: 4 (0.00001715%)
Deets: Republican Rick McIntyre was certified (by Indiana’s GOP Secretary of State) as the winner, despite recounts showing Democrat Frank McCloskey was in the lead. The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives conducted their own recount, eventually declaring McCloskey the winner by four votes. (House Republicans symbolically exited the chamber in protest.)
Spin: Why it’s important to vote in down-ballot races like Secretary of State too!
Total votes: 12,526
Vote margin: 8 (0.000639%)
Deets: Democrat Joanne Ferrary appeared to have defeated incumbent Terry McMillan but a recount found McMillan to be the winner.
Spin: What’s the deal with New Mexico?
District 6, State Senate, VA (2014)
Total votes: 20,403
Vote margin: 11 (0.0005391%)
Deets: Democrat Lynwood Lewis defeated Republican Wayne Coleman in the special election for a Virginia state senate seat. Initially ahead by 22 votes, Lewis had his total halved to just 11 by a recount.
Spin: This happened less than a year ago, and didn’t decide just one election, but the fate of the entire State Senate. YOU DO MATTER!!
Total votes: 186,071
Vote margin: 21 (0.0001129%)
Deets: It took a 98-page decision from a panel of state Supreme Court justices to confirm Rep. Sam Gejdenson’s victory — which increased four votes on Election Day to 21 over Republican Edward Munster.
Spin: This was in Connecticut — where you live and eat and vote!
Total votes: 121,503
Vote margin: 34 (0.02798%)
Deets: Mitt Romney was originally declared the winner of the caucuses by 8 votes, but a recount pushed Yalies’ favorite guy Rick Santorum over the top by just 34.
Spin: Guys, this was a presidential election. As in, you and 33 of your closest friends can sway an entire presidential election!
Juniors and seniors may also remember Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins ’12, who won a seat in the Alaska House of Representatives by just 34 votes (of well over 8,000 cast). And we all certainly recall the 2000 presidential election, in which 537 votes in Florida separated George Bush from Al Gore after the dust had finally settled. (Out of nearly 105 million total ballots cast, these 537 represent roughly 0.000005% of the vote. In other words, one twentieth of one hundredth of one hundredth of one percent.)
Perhaps most importantly, you should know that Connecticut’s 2010 gubernatorial election — the exact same contest with the exact same candidates as this year’s race — was decided by barely a half a percentage point. This year, the final pre-election polls show the race to be a TIE. A 50-50, DEAD-EVEN, NAIL-BITER OF A TIE.
All of which is to say… YOU DO MATTER!! So get out and vote.