Florida's Elections Division: Every Vote Counts

ByABC News

— -- The following can be found on Florida's Division of Elections Web site. It was reprinted from an essay provided by the Honorable Mary Morgan, Supervisor of Elections, Collier County, Florida, and last updated January 23, 1997:

The most often heard excuse for not voting in an election is "my one little vote won't make a difference." Yet history is full of instances proving the enormous power of one single vote. In many cases, the course of nations has been changed because one individual ballot was cast, or not cast, depending upon your point of view. Consider this …

In 1645, one vote gave Oliver Cromwell control of England.

In 1649, one vote literally cost King Charles I of England his head.The vote to behead him was 67 against and 68 for — the ax fellthanks to one vote.

In 1714, one vote placed King George I on the throne of England andrestored the monarchy.

In 1776, one vote gave America the English language instead of German (at least according to folk lore.)

In 1800, the electoral college met in the respective states to casttheir two votes for President. At that time, the U.S. Constitutionprovided the candidate receiving the most electoral votes wouldbecome President and the candidate receiving the second highestnumber of votes would become Vice President. When the results ofthe electoral college votes were opened by both houses of Congress,there was a tie vote for President between Thomas Jefferson andAaron Burr. That threw the election of President into the House ofRepresentatives where Thomas Jefferson was elected our thirdpresident by a one vote margin.

In 1824, none of the four Presidential candidates received an electoralmajority. The election was again thrown into the House ofRepresentatives, where John Quincy Adams defeated front runnerAndrew Jackson by one vote to become the nation's 6th president.Andrew Jackson received the majority of the nation's popular vote.

In 1844, in the backwoods area of Switzerland County, Indiana onelection day, a farmer named Freeman Clark lay seriously ill in bed. Hebegged his sons to carry him to the county seat so he could vote forDavid Kelso to become a state senator. David Kelso had defended oldFreeman Clark on a murder charge and obtained his acquittal. The oldfarmer Freeman Clark got to vote for Kelso, but Clark died on his wayback home. Kelso won the election by one vote. Both Freeman Clarkand David Kelso were long-time Andrew Jackson supporters.

In 1844, when the new Indiana senate convened, Democrats had amajority of one counting David Kelso. At that time, state senates hadthe task of electing the state's United States Senator. The IndianaSenate Democrats held a caucus where it developed a majority of theparty delegation favored a man who would vote against theannexation of Texas if elected to the U.S. Senate. David Kelso refusedto vote for the Democratic Party choice and a deadlock resultedbetween the Democratic and Whig candidates. This continued fordays. Finally, Kelso made his move. He proposed a new candidate:Edward A. Hannigan. In his party caucus, Kelso notified his Democraticassociates he would bolt and vote with the Whigs thus electing aWhig to the Senate — unless the Democrats supported Hannigan. TheDemocrats felt constrained to accept Hannigan who was then electedas Indiana's U.S. Senator by one vote — that of David Kelso.

In 1845, Texas was admitted to the union as a state by one vote —that of Edward A. Hannigan from Indiana. The 1844 and 1845 excerptson the series of single votes leading to Texas statehood are from thebook Magnificent Destiny.

In 1846, a one vote margin in the U.S. Senate approved PresidentPolk's request for a Declaration of War against Mexico.

In 1850, California was admitted to the union by a margin of onevote.

In 1859, Oregon was admitted to the union by a margin of one vote.

In 1867, The Alaska Purchase was ratified by just one vote pavingthe way for the eventual admission of America's largest state in 1958.

In 1868, one vote in the U.S. Senate saved President Andrew Johnson from impeachment.

In 1875, a one vote margin changed France from a monarchy to arepublic.

In 1875, Florida's U.S. Senators were still elected by the statelegislature. Democrat Charles W. Jones of Pensacola was elected tothe U.S. Senate by a majority of one vote.

In 1876, no presidential contender received a majority of electoralvotes so the determination of the country's president was againthrown into the U.S. House of Representatives. By a one vote margin,Rutherford B. Hayes became the new U.S. president. When Tilden'sparty protested the tabulation and demanded a recount, Congressestablished a 15-member electoral commission to again count theelectoral votes and declare the result. By an eight to seven margin —again, one vote — the commission affirmed the count and gave the election and presidency to Hayes.

In 1885, two members of the Florida House of Representatives wageda friendly but close contest for Speaker of the House. Robert W. Davisof Green Cove Springs defeated Gen. Ernest Yonge of Pensacola byone vote.

In 1889, by a one vote margin, Washington was admitted to statehood with the union.

In 1890, by a one vote margin, Idaho became a state.

In 1916, if presidential hopeful Charles E. Hughes had receive oneadditional vote in each of California's precincts, he would havedefeated President Woodrow Wilson's re-election bid.

On November 8, 1923, members of the then recently — formedrevolutionary political party met to elect a leader in a Munich,Germany beer hall. By a majority of one vote they chose an ex-soldiernamed Adolph Hitler to become the Nazi Party leader.

In 1940, the vote taken by the French parliament to maintain itsstatus as a republic failed by a margin of one vote.

In 1941, the Selective Service Act (the draft) was saved by a onevote margin — just weeks before Pearl Harbor was attacked.

In 1948, a Texas convention voted for Lyndon B. Johnson overex-Governor Coke Stevens in a contested Senatorial election. Lyndon Johnson because U.S. Senator by a one vote margin.

In 1948, if Thomas E. Dewey had gotten one vote more per precinctin Ohio and California, the presidential election would have beenthrown into the U.S. House of Representatives where Dewey enjoyedmore support than his rival — incumbent Harry Truman. As it was,Dewey was expected to win the general election by a landslide somost Republicans stayed home. Only 51.5 percent of the electoratevoted. Truman defeated Dewey.

In a 1955 city election in Huron, Ohio, the mayor was elected to officeby one vote.

In a 1959 city election, mayors of both Rose Creek and Odin,Minnesota were elected to their respective offices by one vote.

In the 1960 presidential election, an additional one vote per precinctin Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, and Texas may have altered thecourse of America's modern history by denying John F. Kennedy thepresidency and placing Richard Nixon in the White House eight yearsearlier.

In 1962, the governors of Maine, Rhode Island, and North Dakota wereall elected by a margin of one vote per precinct.

In 1984, a Monroe County, Florida commissioner was elected by onevote.

In 1994, the U.S. House of Representatives enacted a law banningspecific classes of assault weapons. The vote was initially tied butone member changed his vote to approve the ban.

In 1995, bills proposing amendment to the U. S. Constitution requireda 2/3 vote of each House in order to be approved. When the balancedbudget amendment bill came before the U.S. Senate, the measurefailed by one vote. Mark Hatfield, Republican from Oregon, was thesole Republican failing to vote with other members of the RepublicanParty, which was then the majority party of the U.S. Senate. When itbecame apparent the measure would fail, Senate Majority Leader BobDole changed his vote to enable him to bring the matter back upunder parliamentary rules for a vote in the future.

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