by Gus Blackwell, Rep.-61
Within the next few months, it will be time to go to the polling places and cast your vote for a number of elected positions. I hope this past primary election was no indication of what we will see in November. According to Lance Ward, Secretary of the State Election Board, his best guess is that roughly 420,000 individuals voted in the Democratic and Republican primaries and judicial races – only 21 percent of the state’s 2 million-plus registered voters.
Voter apathy is a dangerous situation for our state. There are those who would complain our government is “the will of the few over the many.” When only 21% of registered voters turn out for the elections, they are correct. A voting American adds his/her voice to the “will of the majority.”
Many people believe their vote doesn’t really matter…nothing could be further from the truth.
In 1800, Thomas Jefferson was elected President by one vote in the House of Representatives after a tie in the electoral college.
In 1845, Washington, Idaho, California, and Oregon were admitted to the union as states by one vote (Texas was admitted by 2 votes.)
In 1846, a one vote margin in the U.S. Senate approved President Polk’s request for a Declaration of War against Mexico.
The Alaska Purchase of 1867 was ratified by just one vote
In 1876, no presidential contender received a majority of electoral votes so the determination of the country’s president was again thrown into the U.S. House of Representatives. By a one vote margin, Rutherford B. Hayes became the new U.S. president. When Tilden’s party protested the tabulation and demanded a recount, Congress established a 15-member electoral commission to again count the electoral votes and declare the result. By an eight to seven margin – again, one vote – the commission affirmed the count and gave the election and presidency to Hayes.
On August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution became law, and women could vote in the fall elections, including the Presidential election. One vote was the final deciding factor. One young legislator, 24 year old Harry Burn, had voted with the anti-suffrage forces to that time. But his mother had urged that he vote for the amendment and for suffrage. When he saw that the vote was very close, and with his anti-suffrage vote would be tied 48 to 48, he decided to vote as his mother had urged him: for the right of women to vote. And so on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th and deciding state to ratify.
In 1948, if Thomas E. Dewey had gotten one vote more per precinct in Ohio and California, the presidential election would have been thrown into the U.S. House of Representatives where Dewey enjoyed more support than his rival – incumbent Harry Truman. As it was Dewey was expected to win the general election by a landslide so most Republicans stayed home. Only 51.5 percent of the electorate voted. Truman defeated Dewey.
If you are a young person who is ready to cast his/her first vote…do so! You are about to perform the most important act an American can perform…casting your personal ballot for representation, elected by the people. This is not simply the right of each American, over the age of eighteen…it is their patriotic obligation. For more information, contact your county election board.
I am at the Capitol during part of the week for meetings and interim studies. You can reach me there at 405-557-7384 or contact me at my home in Goodwell or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .