“The first lesson is this: take it from me, every vote counts.” — Al Gore
One afternoon in 1842, as Henry Shoemaker was working on a farm in Indiana, he realized that he’d forgotten to vote. Having promised his vote to Madison Marsh, a Democrat running for state representative, and not wanting to miss out on his civic duty, he saddled his horse and rode twelve miles to the polling place that afternoon.
When he arrived, there wasn’t a ticket available that listed the combination of Democrat and Whig candidates that he wanted to support. Unwilling to be deterred, he borrowed a penknife and cut out names from a few different tickets. He ended up with four pieces of paper that he wrapped together to cast his ballot. The election officers, unfortunately, refused to accept Shoemaker’s improvised ticket.
The state representative race ended in a tie. Marsh contested the results and following a review, a judge overturned the polling inspector’s decision and accepted Shoemaker’s improvised ticket. Madison Marsh was elected. By that one vote.
In that time, the state representatives elected US Senators. And in January of the following year, Marsh and his fellow state legislators met to determine the next US Senator of Indiana. The Indiana General Assembly voted five times, and each time, no candidate received the necessary majority to elect him to the Senate.
On the sixth ballot, one representative changed his vote. Madison Marsh switched his vote to Democrat Edward Hannegan, giving him the majority he needed to become the Senator of Indiana. By one vote.
Three years later, the US Senate was debating whether to declare war with Mexico. The Senate was split and a caucus vote was deadlocked. Until they called on the absent Senator Edward Hannegan. He voted in favor and the US entered into war with Mexico. Again by one vote.
It’s easy to assume that one vote doesn’t matter. Yet it does. It has before and it will again.
The opposition will tell you differently. They’ve created systems to keep you cynical. They’ve tried to convince you that your voice doesn’t matter. And they’ve put up barriers and roadblocks to give you every possible excuse to just stay home on Election Day.
So my question is this, should you allow them to do that? Should you allow a group of voter suppressors to manipulate you out of your voice?
Keith Ellison said, “Not voting is not a protest. It is a surrender.” There’s no such thing as not voting. You either vote or you allow some lunatic on the opposition to increase the value of his voice at the expense of yours.
For those who say they’re not voting in order to make a statement, no one can hear that statement. We all have a voice. And that voice gives us power. But only if we use it. And right now, there are a lot of people on the opposition hoping that you won’t.
To hell with them.
Your voice matters. It’s never mattered more. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
Because you never know what one vote can do.