Counting votes

October 7, 2008

Birch Bayh spoke in Terre Haute and told Democrats that every vote matters, which is slightly different and more truthful than the cliche that every vote counts. He noted that he first won as U.S. senator by a margin of victory that amounted to two votes per precinct:

If we can do that here in Indiana, we can carry Indiana for Barack Obama for president of the United States,” Bayh said. “If we can carry Indiana and we give our 11 electoral votes to Barack Obama, he is going to be president of the United States.”

The state has 5,230 precincts, so that would mean an Obama victory margin of nearly 10,500 votes, which sounds about right if the contest is as close as people suppose (Bush beat Kerry by about 500,000).

It is the rare election that is ever decided by one vote, and the few that are tend to be at the local level. The main reason to vote is not that it will move things one way or the other but that it invests the voter in the outcome and the aftermath. Those on the winning side get to make suggestions to shape policy. Those on the other side get to be the loyal oppostion and second-guess everything. The only real losers are those who don’t even participate.

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