Both of the dominant Parties in the USA at one time or another have told their constituents that “every vote must be counted.” The fact that many major news sources “declare” winners with only 60% of precincts reporting doesn’t actually mean that the “declared winner” wins until the vote is certified. (Typically, a county canvassing board sends the certified vote totals for elections to a state canvassing board, and the state board certifies the elections.)
A recent election in Virginia is a case in point. In fact that election IS the point.
[Source: Every vote really does count, by Ken Blackwell]
In one November election for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates only ten votes separated the incumbent Republican and his Democrat challenger – with the Republican in the lead. A recount transferred the victory to the Democrat challenger. By one vote. Then a state court awarded a disputed ballot – one ballot – to the Republican incumbent and the race was literally tied.
Under Virginia state law the election winner now must be decided by lot. A flip of a coin will determine the victor (that’s not a euphemism – they plan to literally flip a coin to determine the winner)! If just a single citizen on either side of the political spectrum had decided to vote instead of stay at home their vote would have been decisive.
The result does not just determine who represents the 94th House district. The victor in turn decides who controls the House of Delegates. At 51, the Republicans retain a majority. At 50-50 the two parties would have to forge an unprecedented power-sharing agreement.
My friends, you hear politicians spewing out what seems like nonsense – your vote counts. Admittedly, when 130 million votes are cast in a presidential election, the power of one vote seems trivial. But, when that thought makes you want to stay at home instead of voting, REMEMBER THE VIRGINIA 94th HOUSE DISTRICT. (Tie votes are highly unusual, but they do occur – footnote.)
I urge you to vote next November – and, by the by, vote Republican.
Ties in general are uncommon, though they happen on occasion in local races. They become increasingly rare in statewide races and have never happened on the federal level, according to a 2001 study. The Virginia tie would make it at least the fourth time a state legislative race was evenly split: A Rhode Island Senate race 1978 was settled by a special election; a New Mexico House race in 1980 was ultimately decided by a coin toss; and a Mississippi congressional race in 2015 was broken by drawing straws.
To say the least, the method of breaking ties is literally ancient. The very first Democracy, Ancient Greece, also used similar methods to break ties.