Vote Tuesday, you could make a difference

-A A +A
By Margie Harper

By Margie Harper

Voting is the hallmark of democracy and freedom, and the Realtors of the Heart of Kentucky Association urge you to vote in next week’s election.

Our ancestors died on battlefields for this basic freedom. In nations less free, less powerful and less prosperous, people still die asserting the ideals of democracy.

It is a lot easier for us today in America. We do not face intimidation or resistance at our polling places. It is as easy as a run to the convenience store for milk, as time consuming as a stop at the ATM. And, it is as profound an act of self-determination an American can perform.

This year’s election is critical for our country at all levels of government – local, state and federal. Not only will we elect a new president, but also all 435 seats in the U.S. House and one third of the U.S. Senate seats will be decided at the polls next Tuesday. And, of course, numerous state and local officials, as well as issues from growth management to school issues, will be decided at a polling place near you.

We encourage you to not miss this opportunity to exercise your privilege, your right and your obligation to vote. This election may well decide the future of the real estate industry for many years to come. You should ask yourself which candidates at the national, state and local levels best represent your views on homeownership, the economy, taxes, growth, technology and the environment.

In the last presidential election less than half of those people eligible to vote exercised their right to do so. There has been a steady decline in voter turnout in recent years. In fact, the United States now ranks 11th among the world’s democracies in the percentage of eligible voters who exercise that right.

According to the countless polls and surveys that have been conducted to find out why this is so, most people say they do not care or do not feel their vote matters, but let me tell you that it does. There are numerous stories about how one vote counts, and if you do not think it makes a difference, read the following:

  • In 1800, one vote decided the U.S. presidency. The presidential election between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr was tied in the Electoral College, 73 to 73. Therefore the election was tossed into the House of Representatives for decision; but after ballots were cast 36 times by the House, the vote was still tied. Then, one Federalist changed his vote. Others followed, and Jefferson was elected President on the 37th ballot.
  • In 1845, one vote brought Texas into the Union. Freed from Mexico, in 1836 the Republic of Texas was formed and recognized as a new nation by the United States. In 1845, the Republic of Texas requested annexation to the Union; however, many Americans felt that another southern state would bring trouble. When the Senate voted, a deadlock occurred with the Senate voting 26-26. One Senator changed his vote, and by this one single vote Texas became the 28th State by a vote of 27-25. It entered into force only after ratification by the Texas Congress and voters.
  • In 1846, one vote started a war. The Mexican army had invaded Texas and President James Polk asked for a Declaration of War. The Senate was not anxious for war and the declaration was passed by the margin of only one vote. That one vote for the Mexican War brought us not only victory, but the territory of five great states, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and California.
  • In 1868, one vote saved Andrew Johnson from losing the presidency. After being impeached in the U.S. House for abusing his executive powers, President Johnson retained his office when the U.S. Senate voted 35 to 19 to remove him from office. A two-thirds majority of the votes cast was needed to oust him from office. Thus a 36-to-18 result was required, which was missed by one vote.
  • In 1920, one vote gave women the right to vote. Women’s right to vote in the United States in 1920 was decided by a single vote cast in the Tennessee legislature.
  • In 1961, one vote decided the parliamentary election outcome in Zanzibar. In  Zanzibar, now part of Tanzania, the Afro-Shirazi Party won the general election by a single seat, after the seat of Chake-Chake on Pemba Island was won by a single vote.
  • In 1984, one vote decided an Alaska state representative primary election. One vote gave Mary Ratcliff the nomination for state representative of House District 12, Alaska, in the primary election.
  • In 1986, one vote raised a statewide drinking age. The Iowa House passed the legislation by one vote changing the legal drinking age in Iowa from 19 to 21.

So, next Tuesday, Nov. 4, the Heart of Kentucky Association of Realtors asks that you think about the potential power of your vote. It may not seem like much, but it matters, and it’s easy to cast.

One vote – your vote – counts.

Margie Harper is executive vice president, Heart of Kentucky Association of Realtors.