David Liebler is the Director of Public Affairs and Member Services for the California State Association of Counties. For more, visit The County Voice.

Never believe that your vote – one single vote – doesn’t make a difference. It does. Just take a look at the 5th District supervisorial election in Sierra County, where one vote could be the difference.

Each morning after a primary and general election, I put together a summary of supervisor election results from around the state. (To read the unofficial results from the June 8 election, click here.) There are always some notes of interest, regarding who won, who lost, percentage of victory or loss, and so on. But this morning, Sierra County’s 5th District supervisorial race caught my eye when I reviewed their unofficial final results:

  • Scott Schlefstein – 151 votes (49.83%)
  • Karen Rickman – 151 votes (49.83%)
  • Write-in Votes – 1

Now granted, these are unofficial results and they could change when all provisional ballots are tallied and the election is finalized.  But as it stands, one vote either way and a difference is made. And that write-in vote just sticks out there; if it had been cast for one of the two candidates on the ballot… well, you get the picture.

Yes, each vote can – and does – make a difference. That doesn’t just hold true in an election where just over 300 votes are cast. In Calaveras County, longtime Supervisor Merita Callaway is running for re-election. The county’s unofficial results show her receiving 49.89% of the vote. In primary supervisorial elections, a candidate needs 50% plus one vote to win and not have to face a run-off in November. Three more votes and Merita Callaway would have reached that threshold. She just had to have one vote switched from each of the other two candidates and also receive the single write-in vote. Again, the results are unofficial and could change over the next month since county elections officials have until July 9 to finalize the election. But in this race, every vote could make a difference.

There were other races of a similar nature. In Mono County, two challengers are less than a percentage point apart (just a five-vote difference.) In Tulare County, incumbent Mike Ennis is ahead by just 83 points in the unofficial results – and a mere 29 votes above the threshold needed to win outright and avoid a November runoff.

Yes, every vote does count, which makes the fact that state voter turnout was only 24.8% even more distressing.  Hopefully the 12.8 million registered voters in California who decided not to cast a ballot will understand this come November.

For more, visit The County Voice, a place where CSAC, county officials and stakeholders can voice their thoughts on governance and issues that impact California’s 58 counties.