What’s the old expression, “For want of a nail, a kingdom was lost?”
Ben Franklin wasn’t talking about the electorate when he wrote that, but he could have been. We’ve written before about how a single vote in an election can be the difference between a candidate winning or losing, or a ballot question prevailing or falling. This week gave three very different examples of how every vote counts.
In Salisbury, voters in the town election approved a Proposition 2 1/2 override for $450,000 to help pay the town’s share of the Triton Regional School District budget by just two votes, 340-338. A similar question last year – albeit the larger amount of $800,000 – was defeated, 867-762. The current Proposition 2 1/2 override plan still requires a positive vote at Salisbury Town Meeting, so it’s anyone’s guess how that will go – and whether two votes will again tip the scales one way or the other.
Also this week in Rowley, a ballot question calling for a ban on single-use plastic bags at local stores lost at the polls by just four votes, 359-355. Not a razor-thin margin, but still notable. The trend toward banning the flimsy plastic bags that too often blight the roadsides and flutter in the occasional shrub is catching on in this area, with Newburyport leading the way several years ago. With a vote that close, we wouldn’t be surprised if the issue comes up again in Rowley and other communities.
And in one more case of how important just one vote is, voters in Chatham this week rejected a proposal, 113-112, to spend $100,000 on a feasibility study on a shark barrier at Oyster Pond, in the wake of last September’s fatal attack by a great white shark in Wellfleet, and concern about the proliferation of sharks along the Cape.
The next time you see your town election or town meeting, or a state or national vote coming up on the calendar and you find ways to avoid not voting, think about the importance of one person, one vote. Voting is a right and a privilege in America. Voting matters and one person’s vote really does count.