Making Democracy Work

Why Should I Vote?

One vote makes a difference

Your Vote Counts!Many people today are disenchanted with the democratic process and stay home on Election Day. They believe that their vote makes no difference and they can't possibly have an impact on the electoral process. But, one vote makes a difference...

The Arithmetic of Voting

How important is a single vote? To make the math easy, let's talk about 100 people being eligible to decide an issue.

100 people are eligible to vote. If ALL register AND vote, then 51 votes decide the election. If only 60 people register to vote (even though 100 people are eligible) AND ALL 60 vote, 31 votes win the election.

If 60 people register to vote, but only 30 of them (50%) vote... then it takes only 16 votes to win the election.

This is essentially what happened in the 1994 Congressional elections. Many local elections were close. Because many people did not vote, a small group of active voters controlled the outcome.

When you choose NOT to vote, you give more clout to every vote that is recorded.

One Vote Makes a Difference

  • In 2010, Al Franken became the senator from Minnesota by just 312 votes statewide. That averaged to one extra vote for Al from each of Minnesota's polling places!
  • In 1985, Jim Chapman won the first U.S. Congressional seat in Texas by fewer than 5 votes per precinct.
  • In 1978, Marc Garcia won a seat in the California State Senate by 90 votes.
  • In 1974, Jerry Brown won the race for California governor by a margin of fewer than 8 votes per precinct.
  • In 1968, Hubert Humphrey lost the presidential race to Richard Nixon by a margin of fewer than 3 votes per precinct.
  • In 1960, Richard Nixon lost the presidential election and John Kennedy won by a margin of less than 1 vote per precinct.

And Look at These Local Elections

  • In April 1996, in the 17th Aldermanic District in Milwaukee, Willie Hines won by 14 votes.
  • In Milwaukee, the Seventh District alderman race of 1992 was won by Fred Gordon by 75 votes out of more than 9000 cast.
  • In Mequon in 1986, a coin toss decided the winner of a tie vote between Daniel Abendrott and Carol Hoit for alderman. One absentee ballot, which would have decided the race, was rejected because it was improperly witnessed.

Useful Voter Information Sites