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A single vote mattered

If ever there was a lesson in how government works in the real world, it’s this: One vote can make a difference. Prime example? Election results for the town supervisor’s race in Pine Plains look like they have changed since Election Day.

The change is due to the counting of affidavit and absentee ballots, which occurred on Wednesday, Nov. 22, the day before Thanksgiving.

Originally, Republican candidate Rich Brenner, a town councilman, was the unofficial victor, with 370 votes. His Democratic challenger, Darrah Cloud, had garnered 348 votes. It was close, but still ended with a clear winner.

Not so fast. Once the affidavit and absentee votes were counted, Cloud gained another 41 votes, while Brenner earned another 18. That put Cloud one vote ahead, making her the next town supervisor.

The results still need to be certified by the state, which was expected to happen after being sent to Albany, scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 6, after this paper went to press. Until then, the results are unofficial.

And Brenner could have contested the results, though he missed the deadline to do so. According to Dutchess County Board of Elections Democratic Commissioner Marco Caviglia, he was unaware of any judicial action challenging the vote. Since that didn’t happen, he said, chances are “Cloud will be the successful candidate.”

To be clear, the results are not set in stone until they’re certified. Things could always change. But the point of this editorial is to highlight how critical it is — especially in local elections — to vote. 

So often, we hear voters complain that their votes don’t count. How could one ballot cast make a difference? Well, this proves how. Just think, the election of the next town supervisor in Pine Plains hinges on just a single vote. 

Voter apathy, mistrust of the electoral process and laziness are all reasons — though not good reasons — why some people never make it to the polls. We realize that national elections depend on a murky electoral college process that sometimes contradicts the popular vote — Hillary Clinton won almost 3 million more votes than Donald Trump, yet still, Trump won the presidency. But we can’t let that stop us.

Here, in the Harlem Valley, we live in small, close-knit communities. Our families and friends, colleagues and neighbors are our candidates, and when successful, our lawmakers and leaders. Their winning or losing is predicated on how many people make the effort to vote. That means that our lives, as determined by local laws and procedures, depend on us voting. There is a direct correlation. 

According to Caviglia, circumstances like the one in Pine Plains are not unusual. Sometimes, results change. Those thought losers become winners, all because of a single vote.

The temptation to share this civics lesson was just too great to resist. We hope you understand. We also hope that you take it to heart, and remember when Election Day rolls around that it’s true what they say: Every vote counts.