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Voting Matters

The sad story of Mike Feeley.

What kept 121 extra Feeley supporters inside on election day?In the current political climate, where electoral math minimizes the importance of all but a few key states months before a presidential election, it's no surprise that more and more people are becoming disillusioned about politics. How could my vote matter, they wonder, when elections are decided by millions of votes? One vote is just a drop in the proverbial puddle. But, more often than you might think, elections (especially congressional elections) are decided by the slimmest of margins.Take, for example, the 2002 election for U.S. Representative in Colorado's 7th district, which encompasses some suburbs of Denver and a large slice of the surrounding countryside. Once all the votes were tallied (and lawsuits decided) the Republican candidate, Bob Beauprez, beat Democrat Mike Feeley by 121 votes-.07 percent of the 163,477 cast. What kept 121 extra Feeley supporters inside on election day? Perhaps Denver's football team having the week off meant fewer people watching last-minute campaign commercials. Or maybe a snowstorm and police shootout in the city the day before the election added other reasons to stay inside. And, surely, a campaign visit by George W. Bush the week before fired up the local Republicans.This is not a lone example. In the 27th District of New York, almost 300,000 people cast their ballots for their representative in 2004. The election was decided by 3,774 votes. And, that same year, only 130 voters separated the winner from the loser in the Washington gubernatorial race, an election in which 2.9 million people voted. The next time you think your vote doesn't matter, stop for a moment and think of poor Mike Feeley.

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