Your vote will make a difference today

Posted: Tuesday, November 07, 2000

This is not a day to sit on the fence.

If national polls are correct, your preferred candidate for president is going to need every vote -- including yours -- to decide what has been described as the closest presidential race in generations.

Closer to home, the way some candidates have turned nasty suggests there are more than a few tight races for Alaska legislative seats as well.

Your vote is your opportunity to make a difference. Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader was exactly right when he said: "...The only wasted vote is for someone you don't believe in.''

From our perspective, what's critical about today is not who you vote for, but that you vote. What's the point in having a voice in government if you don't use it?

The heated campaigning of the past few days indicates candidates know how important each and every vote is. We hope that's a message not lost on voters. In case you need a reminder that your vote and voice matter, here are some examples of close races from the past:

In 1776, one vote gave America the English language instead of German.

In 1845, one vote brought Texas into the Union.

In 1868, one vote saved President Andrew Johnson from impeachment.

In 1876, one vote gave Rutherford Hayes the presidency of the United States.

In 1939, one vote passed the selective service act.

In 1960, one vote per precinct elected John F. Kennedy as president.

A little closer to home, the state Division of Elections says:

In 1978, Jay Hammond won the nomination for governor over Walter Hickel in the primary election by just 98 votes statewide. That's less than 1/4 vote per precinct.

In 1990, four contests in the general election were decided by a margin of less than 1 percent of the votes cast in each contest.

In 1994, 1.1 votes per precinct elected Tony Knowles as governor and Fran Ulmer as lieutenant governor out of 216,668 votes cast in the general election.

Recounts following the 1998 general election made John Harris the winner over Tom Van Brocklin by 11 votes in District 35 and Carl Morgan the winner over Irene Nicholia by six votes in District 36.

Most of us give lip service to having the best system of government in the world. When it comes to participating in that system, however, it seems almost everything else ranks as more important.

We ask Alaskans this Election Day to resolve not to let other people make your decisions for you. Vote for the candidates you think will best serve the interests of all Alaskans. A list of polling places on the Kenai Peninsula Borough can be found on page A-5 of today's Clarion.

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