Thursday, May 3, 2012

Small Town Elections

The town of Ashland just had an election for town council on May 1st. According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, only 616 of the town's 3,908 voters came out to the polls.

There were three seats open, with five candidates running for those three seats. Results turned out like this:

Ned Henson: 382 votes
George F. Spagna: 373 votes
Steve Trivett: 339 votes
Terri Winston-Abri: 314 votes
Lucinda Jones: 186 votes

Since each voter who showed up could cast three votes, there were a total of 1,848 potential votes. However, there were only a total of 1,594 votes cast. That is a deficit of 254 votes.

This means that somewhere between 127 and 254 people left at least one of the three ballot spots blank. That is, they only voted for one or two candidates, and left the remaining spots empty.

I have to confess, I've done this before. I go to polls, and if I don't know enough about candidates, I don't vote for them. I might be voting for a particular issues I care about, and rather than just vote randomly for the other issues, I leave them blank for those who are better informed to decide.

But it is interesting. If all slots had been filled on all ballots, by all voters who showed up, the results could have been drastically different. Those missing votes are enough to have put any one of the candidates far in the lead of the others.

Just 15.8% of the eligible voters came out. The total gap between the most and least amount of votes is only 196 votes. That difference is only 5% of the eligible voters.

If 98 of the people who voted had voted differently, the results would have been different.

As a nation, we are pretty apathetic to voting. I think there is a sense that somehow, one vote can't make a difference. But here's an example of how huge a difference it could make. 196 seats is just about the seating capacity of an average restaurant or small theater. I've been in classrooms with over 98 people before.

Something to think about next election day.

1 comment:

  1. Like they say, every vote counts.
    In a town like Ashland, every voter's vote makes a difference.