A quick lesson on representative democracy.

San Jose, California, had a primary in a special election to fill an empty City Council seat.

On a day-to-day basis, city councils have a greater impact on people than who is in the White House. City councils determine police and fire staffing levels and spending priorities for services. City decisions about housing density can turn traffic from a minor annoyance to a major headache. Regulations can nurture or strangle small businesses.

Special elections usually result in low voter turnout.  Tuesday was no exception, and the eight candidate field fractured the already low number of votes. The chilly weather with threats of rain probably also hurt turnout.  As of Wednesday evening, with 98% of the votes counted, the difference between second place — and a place in the general election — and third — going home — was thirty-eight votes.

Undoubtedly there will be a recount.  Still… thirty-eight votes? For that matter, the difference between first and third was only 318 votes. If all the people who were too busy, lazy, or cynical to vote had turned up at the polls, or mailed in their absentee ballots, the outcome might be very different.

Edited to add: at 99% of the vote counted, the difference between second and third had dropped to twenty-three votes. The difference between first and third increased slightly, from 318 to 321.

And that, boys and girls, is why you ALWAYS vote.

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