We all remember the 2000 Presidential Election. While Vice President Al Gore won the popular vote, the election results hinged on just a few votes in the State of Florida. Being awarded Florida tipped the Electoral College majority to George W. Bush.
There have been many other very close elections, some very recent. Last year’s Tegan Slaton victory took nine months to decide and ended up being a mere fourteen-vote margin after challenger Mary Vanden Brook appealed the recount.
In 1800, the House of Representatives were forced to choose the President after the Electoral College failed miserably and two candidates had a tie. After 36 ballots, the House finally chose Thomas Jefferson over Aaron Burr. The 12th Amendment to the Constitution helped solve this problem by combining the President and Vice President into a single ticket.
The House again, and for the last time, chose the President in 1824. Four candidates threw the Electoral College into chaos, and the top three competed. Scandal erupted when a newspaper published an anonymous letter claiming that Clay would support Adams in return for an appointment as Secretary of State. Clay vigorously denied this. Adams won on the first ballot of the House of Representatives, and – what a surprise – later appointed Clay as Secretary of State.
One of the more screwed up elections in American history was the 1876 race between Samuel Tilden and Rutherford Hayes. While Tilden won the popular vote, the aftermath of the Civil War and Reconstruction turned the Electoral College process on its ear and provided one of the more convoluted presidential selection procedures ever devised. I’ll spare you the gory details; suffice it to say that the process will likely never be repeated.
In 1888, Grover Cleveland won the popular vote, but Benjamin Harrison became President by winning states with higher Electoral College vote totals.
The 1960 election saw just 100,000 votes separating Richard Nixon from John F. Kennedy. Nixon conceded after losing Illinois by a mere 8,000 votes. Nixon did, however, come back.
In Key West earlier this month, only 36% of registered voters came to the polls. There was a Mayoral race, several commission raced, and a referendum issue. One would have thought that Key Westers might have thought the election important.
Locally, your vote is even more important. This year’s City Council election in Marathon is the only race on the ballot. There are only 5,400 registered voters in Marathon, and likely fewer than 30% of those will bother to vote. While that says a great deal about local participation (or lack thereof), it makes those who cast a ballot even more important in deciding who will represent them on the City Council.
With all the issues facing Marathon, it’s a real shame that more of our registered voters won’t make the time to vote. The absentee and early voting processes should result in a much higher turnout, yet we still lag behind. Do yourself a favor – go vote! Tuesday, November 3rd, at the different precincts in Marathon.