Yes, Every Vote Counts
The title says it all, “yes, every vote counts.” Maryland’s recent primary election, and the nail-biting finishes we’ve been watching, proves just that. Barry Rascovar’s excellent rundown demonstrates just how close our elections can get and clearly shows just how wrong the “I’m only one vote” mentality is.
Democracy isn’t a spectator sport and you must be politically active to support political activism. Democrats have a real chance to bring about change in Talbot County and the Maryland state house. After reading this important piece, we strongly encourage you to learn more about our candidates here. Donate, volunteer, or just simply remember to vote – either way, you’re doing your part and making your voice heard in our democratic process.
You can read more of Barry’s pieces at Political Maryland.
posted by Patrick Firth, TCDCC Member
By Barry Rascovar
To the 75% of Maryland’s registered voters who failed to vote on Primary Election Day, you missed out on the chance to actually decide some important races. Two votes — yup, you and your absentee friend — turned out to be the difference in a Howard County Council race. Nine votes is all that separates the two top contenders for Baltimore County Executive. Two county council races in Prince George’s County came down to 31 votes and 55 votes. Less than 150 votes are the difference in the race for Montgomery County Executive, where final tallies aren’t official.
Voting does, indeed, make a difference, despite the conspiracy theorists, led by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, who two years ago tried to persuade followers “the fix” was in and all elections were rigged against them. Maryland’s election boards, despite an unforgivable screw-up by the Motor Vehicle Administration that required thousands to cast provisional ballots, performed brilliantly. Of course there was the expected mess-up in Baltimore City, where one large voting site opened two hours late, but Maryland’s “back to the future” quasi-paper ballot system proved its value, thanks to strong, human oversight by election officials.
Recounts Count, Too
Counting the absentee and provisional ballots became pivotal in a few races. Again, election personnel proved up to the task, methodically and slowly determining which ballots were eligible while representatives of the candidates watched the entire process. Recounts will be necessary in those close races. It’s entirely possible the Baltimore County Democratic winner for executive, John Olszewski, Jr. — Johnny O to just about everyone, just like his dad — could become the loser after a re-count. That nine-vote margin is razor-thin. Similarly, newcomer Liz Walsh’s two-vote victory in the Democratic councilmanic primary for the Ellicott City area of Howard County could slip away if just a handful of votes were wrongly counted or are disqualified.
Maryland’s primary demonstrates conclusively three things. First, every vote is, indeed, counted. It was a transparent process from the time voters marked their ballots and slid them into the tabulation machines to the hand-counting of absentee and provisional ballots. Second, American voting remains a bedrock of elective government. And, yes, Virginia, every eligible citizen should participate if he or she truly wishes to have a meaningful a role in our democratic process. Elections are determined by individual decisions to sit on your hands and complain — or go out and make a difference. Third, November’s election outcomes will turn largely on how many registered voters opt out of the process.
No ‘Blue Wave’?
Another abysmally low Democratic turnout in November could be the death knell for Ben Jealous’ chances to upset incumbent Republican Gov, Larry Hogan. Similarly, unless Hogan can energize Republicans to get to the polls (GOP turnout was even lower than the Democrats), he faces a tough reelection challenge from the left. Nationally, there is no way a Democratic “blue wave” will sweep across the country and win back control of the House of Representatives without a strong surge in voting levels among registered Democrats. Democratic leaders want to “send a message” to President Trump and create a counter-weight to his policies in Congress. That won’t happen if rank-and-file Democrats get lazy, take the election results for granted or cynically give up on making a difference. The same thing is true on the Republican side. Without a strong GOP turnout, it is conceivable the “blue wave” will take back control of both chambers of Congress. Voting levels in American elections are disgraceful. Even under-developed nations prize the right to vote more than we do. Turnouts in most other countries are astoundingly high compared to the U.S. of A. Bad things happen if ordinary citizens don’t speak up when given the chance. Marylanders get another opportunity in November to mend their ways. Sadly, data from the past shows this may not happen.