2016 | Election Day, April 5 | #1144
On Wisconsin’s Spring Election Day five years ago, a friend from Northern Wisconsin called me. He excitedly told me no one was on the ballot for his county supervisor district. “I’m going to write myself in—and then call my wife and have her write me in, too! I could get elected this way, Julaine!”
He did exactly as he said. When the polls closed, my friend had a surprise. He found out that another citizen in his district had done the same thing—written himself in and gotten another person to vote for him. So these two Election Day write-ins were tied with 2 votes apiece. Officials in the county decided to draw cards to determine the winner. My friend drew a Jack and the other person drew an 8. And that’s how my friend became a county supervisor.
I tell you this story to emphasize the importance of one vote. We’ve had many very close elections in this state. Remember 2011 when we went through a recount on a statewide election for a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice? Nearly 1.5 million votes were cast—and the decision came down to 7,000 votes in the recount. Elections being decided by a handful of votes happen all the time.
Today is Wisconsin’s spring general election and presidential preference primary. The lesson from close elections is very simple. Your vote matters today. And the votes of those you encourage to go to the polls today also matter.
We typically have very low voter turnout in our spring elections. However, I and many others think today’s turnout will be considerably higher than we usually have. With the presidential primary we have heightened interest. But increased voter turnout does not lessen the importance of a single vote. Not in the least. The 2011 spring election that I referenced earlier had unusually high voter turnout.
The bottom line is one vote matters every election.
The stakes are high today. We have a statewide race for a seat on our Wisconsin Supreme Court. That’s a 10-year term. Incumbent Justice Rebecca Bradley faces challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg—who happened to be on the losing deal of that 2011 Supreme Court race, by the way. And then there is the presidential primary. If you haven’t figured out that The Badger State is the virtual epicenter of presidential primary politics, you must have been out of the country or living in the woods with no outside communication the last two weeks. Both the Republican and the Democrat primaries are very important in determining who will be the nominees for the parties.
Of great importance also are all the local races that will be on your ballot today. Mayors, school board members, city council members, county supervisors, town and village supervisors, and judges are being elected all across the state today. These are often people who are your neighbors or perhaps you go to church with them or work with them. These are the folks who will be making decisions regarding how your local taxes are spent, whether your school board will protect the privacy rights of all students, when your trash will be picked up, and so much more. No unit of government more directly impacts our lives than local government. How you vote today in these local races really does matter.
If you haven’t done your research on the candidates, there’s still time. Visit myvote.wi.gov, that’s myvote.wi.gov for basic election related information, including a sample ballot that will show you what races will be on your ballot and any referendum you might have.
Wisconsin Family Council offers educational information on the Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates and the presidential candidates. That is available at wifamilycouncil.org, wifamilycouncil.org.
The polls are open today from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. statewide. I am urging you, if you have not already voted, to make voting today one of your highest priorities. Call a few people and make sure they are voting as well.
Will your voice be heard today? Will your values be represented? One thing is for sure, they won’t be if you don’t vote. Don’t be guilty of being that one vote that wasn’t cast that could have made all the difference.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”