Election 2008 – get out and vote – be a part of history

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Paul Schillo
  • 71st Mission Support Group superintendent
This year's presidential election presents us with an opportunity not only to pick our next president, but to be a part of history.

For the first time, we have an African-American candidate running for president on a major party ticket.

In addition, a woman is running for vice president for only the second time in our nation's history. Since these two candidates are in opposition to each other, one will win, and history will be made.

On Nov. 5, for the first time, the United States will have either an African-American president elect, or a woman vice president elect.

It appears this year's election will be very close. At the time of this writing, several polls show the candidates to be even. How close the election ultimately will be remains to be seen.

However, many people suppose their vote doesn't count, so they aren't very motivated to get out and cast their ballot. Nothing could be further from the truth. Consider these close elections:

In 1839, Marcus Morton was elected governor of Massachusetts by two votes.

In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes was elected president over Samuel Tilden by one electoral vote. Mr. Hayes won South Carolina by a scant 889 votes. As a result, he was awarded all seven of its electoral votes, and won the presidency.

In 1884 presidential election, New York Governor Grover Cleveland defeated Maine Representative James G. Blaine by about 25,000 votes. Cleveland won his home state by a mere 1,047 votes, taking all 36 electoral votes and the presidency in the process. Had Congressman Blaine won the New York popular vote, he would have won in the Electoral College and would have been president.

In 1916, Woodrow Wilson was reelected president over Republican Charles Evans Hughes by 23 electoral votes. Wilson won California by 0.3 percent, about 4,000 votes, and took all 13 electoral votes. Had Mr. Hughes won California, he would have been president.

In 1976, Jimmy Carter defeated Gerald Ford by less than 1.7 million votes out of 80 million cast. Mr. Carter won Ohio by 0.27 percent and Wisconsin by 1.68 percent. Had Mr. Ford won both, he would have been elected president.

In 1984, Frank McCloskey was elected to represent Indiana's 8th Congressional District by four votes. More than 233,000 were cast.

Sam Gejdenson was elected to represent Connecticut's 2nd Congressional District in 1994 by 21 votes. More than 186,000 votes were cast.

George Bush was elected president in 2000 by a four vote margin in the Electoral College. Mr. Bush won Florida by 0.0092 percent, 537 votes, and all 25 electoral votes. Al Gore had his share of close calls too. He won New Mexico, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Oregon, each by a margin of less than 0.45 percent, and took all 30 of those states' electoral votes.

In 2000, challenger Maria Cantwell upset incumbent Washington Senator Slade Gorton by 2,229 votes out of nearly 2.5 million cast.

Christine Gregoire was elected Governor of Washington in 2004 by 129 votes. Washington voters cast nearly 2.8 million votes.

In the Salt Lake City school board election of 2004, Alama Uluave squeaked out a one-vote victory over Michael Clara.

Jeanne Windham was elected to the Montana House of Representatives in 2004 by two votes.

Finally, in 1978, my home town of Cleveland, Ohio, had a recall election in which an attempt was made to oust Mayor Dennis Kucinich. The mayor survived the recall attempt, and retained his office by only 236 votes. More than 120,000 votes were cast.

I could go on. These represent only a few of the many very close elections in American history. There have also been many close elections elsewhere in the world.

Clearly, your vote can be decisive. What I suggest all of us do is to first register to vote to ensure you can vote, and then to get educated on the issues. With all the media coverage on television, print, and the Internet, gathering information for an informed vote is very easy.

So, come Nov. 4th, what are you going to do? Stay home, or go to your polling place and be a part of history?