I’m pretty certain that all the air did not actually suck out of the room.
I think it is probably correct to say that the room did not become dead silent.
But it absolutely seemed that way to me when the vote count being scrolled on the huge screen in this recent primary election showed one vote difference between two candidates for a local seat.
One vote could have made the difference—and did make the difference until the results from the next voting house were displayed.
“Every vote counts,” and “Make the difference with your vote.” We repeat the platitudes but can’t help but wonder if our one vote matters. We hear couples say that they “cancel” each other’s vote out.
But for a minute in time last week, I watched one vote count.
It was a watershed moment because I actually watched first hand one vote make a difference.
I say that to say this. We have a run off election March 31. It falls during Spring Break for area schools.
For those eligible to vote who have not yet registered, March 16 is the voter registration deadline. March 26 is the last day for a voter to make application for an absentee ballot. Absentee ballots may be obtained at the county registrars office or requested online at alabamavotes.gov. A copy of a voter’s identification must accompany the absentee ballot application.
All absentee ballots need to be in the voter registrar’s office by noon on election day. Each absentee ballot must be in an individual envelope.
Voter turnout March 3 in Coffee County was 34.5 percent. Voter turnout in Dale County was 30.91 percent. That people turned out to vote is wonderful. That is—realistically—a win regardless of who the votes were for. That statement may seem like heresy to some, but it really is just that basic.
“Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democrat answer but the right answer” is what the 35th President of the United States John Kennedy once said. “Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”
I tell the story often of two nearby cities where mayoral elections were held and everyone was completely sure the incumbent, in each city, would win. They were so sure the incumbent would win that most of the people didn’t turn out to vote. In what people called a “political upset” the political novice challenger won the election in both cities.
We can, quite literally, change pretty much anything we want to change about this country, this state, this county and this city.
Low voter turnout has become a troubling trend almost everywhere but I actually watched one individual vote almost change an election, despite “my-one-vote-doesn’t-count” being cited often as a reason not to bother voting.
Voting is a constitutional right that many fought and died for. Not voting is allowing a minority to rule over the majority.
Have we already forgotten the news reports from Iraq in 2005 when Iraqi citizens lined up for hours to participate in the country’s first free election, conducted under the watchful eye of the United States military? Pictures flashed around the world of smiling voters holding up their purple ink stained fingers with pride. The purple sign that they had indeed voted came to represent the hard earned freedom to vote.
Showing up to vote is the best way to make a difference, one vote at a time.
And a final note—when people don’t exercise their right to vote assuming that the next guy will, it shouldn’t be called a “political upset.”
Michelle Mann is a staff writer for The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun-Courier. The opinions of this writer are her own and not the opinion of the paper. She can be reached at (334) 393-2969 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.