Yes, every vote counts

Virginia statehouse a case in point for how showing up to the polls makes a difference

You hear it every election. Someone you know, or someone on TV, reminds you to go to the polls or fill out your mail-in ballot with the clichéd phrase, “Every vote counts!” And, based on turnout numbers, odds are high you’re among the many who tune out the admonition.

Even for the hotly contested 2016 election, in which Donald Trump became president, nearly one-fourth of Butte County’s registered voters did not cast a card. Nationally, nearly 4 in 10 abstained.

Voter suppression tactics could explain lower turnouts some places, but not here. There’s no voter ID law in California. Registration is encouraged. No, apathy and pessimism are culprits in these parts.

What difference can my one vote make?

A lot. Virginia just proved it.

On Nov. 7, Democrats swept almost every race in the Old Dominion. Republicans handily controlled the Legislature, thanks to district maps that required a massive disproportion of the popular vote to dislodge the GOP, but surprisingly the statehouse balance came to teeter on several close contests.

The final split hinged on the House of Delegates seat held by Republican David Yancey. In the preliminary count, he led Shelly Simonds—a school board member from Newport News—by 10 votes. The recount Tuesday (Dec. 19), with representatives from both parties present, came out 11,608 to 11,607 for Simonds.

A panel of three judges needs to affirm the result. With that hurdle cleared, and Simonds sworn in, Democrats and Republicans will have an equal share of House seats and no tiebreaker.

One vote made the difference.

Heading into 2018, Butte County voters face consequential decisions. Just in Chico, we’ll have on the June ballot both our county supervisor seats and in November three City Council seats that give conservatives the 4-3 majority. It’s also a re-election year for Congressman Doug LaMalfa, a staunch supporter of Trump and the GOP agenda.

Don’t sit 2018 out. Every vote counts, and yours may be needed.