Don’t Think Your Vote Matters?
By: Julie Schrei, Political Affairs Director, Food Marketing Institute
Earlier this month Arizona became a hot topic in political circles. No, not because of Sen. John McCain’s re-election, but because former GoDaddy executive Christine Jones conceded that she had lost the Republican primary in Arizona’s fifth Congressional district by 27 votes.
Close races seem to be becoming the norm.
In 2015, Mississippi’s 79th District State House race resulted in a tie. Still don’t believe your vote matters?
This week FMI’s political action committee, FoodPAC, hosted BIPAC president Hon. Jim Gerlach for a political update. Gerlach served Pennsylvania’s Sixth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2002-2014 and before that, served eight years in the Pennsylvania State Senate. He is no stranger to difficult campaigns- running four congressional campaigns in what National Journal called “the most competitive district in the nation.”
His knowledge of tax (having served on the powerful House Ways & Means Committee) and business policy gave him a very unique perspective on federal races. He also stressed the importance of turning out to vote. He told of two specific campaign races where just a few votes made him victorious.
- 1990: Gerlach ran for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives against an 18-year incumbent and won by 23 votes out of 17,000 votes cast in the 33 polling precincts of that 155th State House District. Had just one vote changed from him to his opponent in each of those polling places, he would have lost by 10 votes rather than winning by 23.
- 2006: Gerlach ran for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives in the PA-6th District and won by 3,155 votes. There were over 320 polling precincts in the District, meaning he won by less than 10 votes per precinct that year.
If just a few more people had voted in either of these races, the outcome could have been significantly different.
While the presidential election is important and historic, it is not the only race on the ballot. Even if you are uncertain about the tone of the presidential campaign, there are lots of other factors to consider.
Local and state officials have a direct impact on your daily life. In 2014, more than 24,000 bills were passed into law by state legislatures, and city councils and county boards typically vote to approve roughly 15-20 ordinances each month. That’s a lot of legislative activity that has a direct impact on you.
Please don’t stay home this election day! Make your voice heard on November 8th. For more information about absentee ballot, polling places and more, visit FMI’s Voting Resources.