These are just a few examples this year of the significant issues that will be put before the people of these United States.

Every Vote Does Count

Some of you may already be convinced that there are serious issues to consider this year, but you might not believe that your single vote has the power to affect the outcome of the election. However, history proves that the adage "every vote counts" is not just a cliché! We all remember the 2000 presidential election, which was so close that the outcome could not be determined until weeks after voting had actually taken place. However, there have been a number of other elections in recent history that have been decided by only a handful of votes — and in some cases, by one vote!

Consider these dramatic "one vote" election decisions, as recorded by the Federal Election Commission:

  • In 1997, Vermont state representative Sydney Nixon was seated as an apparent one vote winner, 570 to 569. Mr. Nixon resigned when the State House determined, after a recount, that he had actually lost to his opponent Robert Edmond, 572 to 571.
  • In 1989, a Lansing, Michigan school district millage proposition failed when the final recount produced a tie vote, 5,147 for and 5,147 against. On the original count, votes against the proposition were 10 more than those in favor. The result meant that the school district had to reduce its budget by $2.5 million.
  • In 1994, Republican Randall Luthi and Independent Larry Call tied for a seat in the Wyoming House of Representatives from the Jackson Hole area with 1,941 votes each. A recount produced the same result. Mr. Luthi was finally declared the winner when, in a drawing before the Senate Canvassing Board, a ping pong ball bearing his name was pulled from the cowboy hat of Democratic Governor Mike Sullivan.
  • In 1997, South Dakota Democrat John McIntyre led Republican Hal Wick 4,195 to 4,191 for the second seat in Legislative District 12 on election night. A subsequent recount showed Wick the winner at 4,192 to 4,191. The State Supreme Court, however, ruled that one ballot counted for Wick was invalid due to an overvote. This left the race as a tie. After hearing arguments from both sides, the state legislature voted to seat Wick 46 to 20.

Several other high-profile elections in U.S. history have been decided by the tiniest of margins. Averill Harriman’s gubernatorial election of 1954, and George McGovern’s and John Warner’s senatorial victories in 1960 and 1978, respectively, were all decided by one vote or less per precinct. The presidential race between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy in 1960 was also a neck-and-neck contest. After all of the votes had been tallied, an average margin of only one-half vote per precinct nationwide separated the winner from the loser!

Half Not Even Registered

Despite these examples, statistics continue to show that many Americans, both Christian and non-Christian, will not take the time to vote in a given election.

Recent studies indicate that half of the Christians in America are not even registered to vote, and of those that are, only half will go to the polls. In terms of numbers, 39 million Christians did not vote in 2002, and 24 million will not be able to vote in 2004 because they aren’t registered.  What a sad commentary! In our apparent unwillingness to bring our beliefs and values to bear upon the world around us, we run the risk of losing our ability to act as salt and light. I am reminded of Christ’s words during the Sermon on the Mount: "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves…" (Mark 9:50a, NIV).