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Editorial / High stakes and the value of one vote

Published 7:21 pm, Thursday, November 1, 2012
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What's the value of a single vote?

In 2008, Alaska Congressman Mike Kelly won re-election by a single vote after a recount of more than 10,000 ballots.

Last year, Amy Mitchell was elected mayor of Sugar Land, Texas, by a single vote after a recount.

If that's too recent, consider that in 1800, Thomas Jefferson was elected president by one vote in the House of Representatives after a tie in the electoral college.

Think about that before you think about skipping a trip to the polls on Tuesday.

Westport has a proud tradition of turning out at the polls in robust numbers -- particularly for presidential elections.

With critical federal races and equally important local legislative contests on Westport ballots, shame on us if we don't do it again.

In the past five presidential elections, Westport voter turnout has averaged nearly 87 percent -- topped by a 90 percent turnout in 1992 when Bill Clinton ousted George H. W. Bush from the White House.

This year, local voter registration figures point to keen interest in Tuesday's contests. As of Wednesday afternoon, 18,084 people were registered to vote in Westport -- about the same as the last presidential election but about 1,000 more than last fall's town election.

In addition to the Obama-Romney presidential contest, a pair of other federal races on Westport ballots deserve attention.

A nasty contest for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Joe Lieberman will be decided. Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat Chris Murphy have swapped charges and countercharges.

Also on the ballot is a spirited battle for the 4th District Congressional seat between incumbent Democrat Jim Himes and Westport Republican Steve Obsitnik.

Even within our own town borders, contests for state Legislature will have important consequences.

Connecticut last year passed record tax increases, including a retroactive hike in the state income tax. Despite that, the state's finances are foundering.

As for the state's economy, we continue to shed jobs, and unemployment has hit 9 percent -- higher than the nation as a whole.

Votes cast in Westport in two state House districts and a state Senate district will have impact on how those problems are addressed.

Candidates for those seats in Hartford make their pitches for your votes on the following pages of this Opinion section. So find your districts and do your homework.

What's a single vote worth?

Andrew Jackson is no longer around to remind you, so we will.

In 1824, Old Hickory won the popular vote for president. But the electoral college tied, and he lost in the House of Representatives to John Quincy Adams -- by a single vote.