Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The vote that counted.

A campaign that wasn't supposed to be

In a township of just 1,600 voters, the race for Town Supervisor in little known Richmondville New York, put a whole new meaning to the phrase, "every vote counts". Just a few weeks ago, a small, yet hot blooded town of 3,000 citizens, was in the midst of one of the most interesting elections one person could ever encounter.

Supervisor John Barlow (R) wasn't supposed to be running for re-election, as the death of his beloved wife of decades and the loss of his leg because of diabetes, painted a bleak picture for the future of the longtime Councilman and one term Supervisor, however, due to lack of another Republican to run for the seat, Barlow decided to run for another term, and perhaps his last two years in public office.

Local Republicans were concerned with the electoral chances of Supervisor Barlow, as his ability to campaign was limited, and the campaign consisted of a few advertisements in the paper, a local appearance touting local Republicans seeking elected office, final weekend campaigning of a few supporters, and a last minute mailer to the voters of Richmondville.

Facing off against John Barlow was Scott Bennett, an inexperienced Councilman whom was just elected to the Town Board in 2008, the longtime Democrat was running a strong campaign, however, with the 2009 economic recession affecting Americans all across the Nation, experience was golden for candidates across the board.

With the 2009 elections nearing, the Supervisor election was expected to be a nail biter, as the longtime Republican councilman who was elected as Supervisor with under 50% of the vote in 2007, because of fractures amongst left-of-center voters, would tout his years of service to the Town, and the experience he could provide during these tough times, something his Democratic opponent could not offer.

Election day

Its amazing, candidates will spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on a local election over the timeline of months, and it all comes down to just fifteen hours of voting. The polls opened as a beautiful morning was just beginning, however, nightfall would bring a long night of wondering as Republicans and Democrats watched the results stream in.

Turnout was respectable, however, those who remained on the sidelines must have regretted their choice of ignoring an important local election, with the closest election I have ever witnessed.

With all votes counted, Supervisor John Barlow trailed his Democratic opponent by a margin of just two votes, with dozens of absentee ballots yet to be counted. The feeling was unrealistic, that such an important election, could come down to so few voters, a wake up call for those who dismiss their sacred vote, a vote secured through two hundred years of Americans fighting for freedom.

Two weeks later, the local Board of Elections counted the last of absentee ballots in the Richmondville Supervisor election, the full measure of a the American vote was realized on this morning, as it was announced Supervisor John Barlow was re-elected to the highest office in this small town, by just one vote.

346 citizens voted for John Barlow, 345 citizens voted for his Democratic opponent, 80 citizens skipped this election while filling out their ballots, and one vote was void.

What to learn from this election

The next time someone declares "your vote doesn't count", I want you to remember the Supervisor election in a little town, the United States Senate election in Minnesota, and the close Congressional elections in both of New York's special elections in 2009.

Your vote does count, please don't waste it.

On a side note, the 2009 election was not just a great testament to the value of the American vote, but it appeared as though John Barlow was revitalized, as though a man was born anew. Another testament of this election, never give up, even during the worst of times.


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