When One Vote Counts

It took me two hours to get through the line at my polling place this morning, and I got there after the morning rush.

Pundits are predicting a huge turnout today for the presidential election -- far surpassing the 122.3 million people (or 60 percent of registered voters) who went to polls four years ago. In such a crowd, it's hard to imagine that every vote counts, but history is filled with examples of close races.

A former Mathlete at MATHCOUNTS, the middle school enrichment program, has done some digging and found five examples of how one vote really did make a difference in elections to the U.S. House of Representatives:

1. In 1829 in Kentucky, Nicholas Coleman defeated Adam Beatty 2,520 to 2,519.
2. In 1847 in Indiana, George G. Dunn defeated David M. Dobson 7,455 to 7,454.
3. In 1847 in Virginia, Thomas S. Flournoy defeated his opponent 650 to 649.
4. In 1854 in Illinois, James C. Allen defeated William B. Archer 8,452 to 8,451.
5. In 1882 in Virginia, Robert M. Mayo defeated George T. Garrison 10,505 to 10,504.

Closer to home, and more recently, Sen. James Webb (D-Va) beat George Allen in 2006 by 9,100 votes. Just a few more Allen supporters in each precinct could have turned the tide.

And, of course, how can we forget, the presidential election of 2000, which came down to a fraction of a percent in Florida.

I'm sure there are other good examples...Ideas welcome!

Happy Election Day.

By Michael Alison Chandler  |  November 3, 2008; 6:16 PM ET
Previous: Mini-Math-Siesta and a Cool Link | Next: Post-Election Truancy


I believe the Coleman-Franken race in Minnesota is close enough to qualify for a recount....

Posted by: KathyWi | November 5, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

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