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Every Vote Really Does Matter

In the last West Virginia legislative election, some races were decided by as few as 13 votes. (Wokandapix/Pixabay)
In the last West Virginia legislative election, some races were decided by as few as 13 votes. (Wokandapix/Pixabay)
October 29, 2018

CHARLESTON, W.V. — In the last two elections, West Virginia has had one of the lowest turnout rates in the country.

Many West Virginians have said they don’t think their vote matters. But in a lot of cases, it does – just ask Rod Snyder. In the last election, Snyder lost a hotly contested House of Delegates race in the eastern Panhandle by fewer than 100 votes.

"Ninety-six votes; just around 1 percentage point – essentially, nine votes in every precinct,” Snyder said. “If I would've just had nine more people turn out in each precinct, I would have won the race."

That year, four state Senate races were won by fewer than 1,000 votes, and more than a dozen House of Delegates seats were decided by fewer than 500 ballots. One Kanawha County delegate race was decided by just 13 votes.

Snyder said a low voter turnout means fewer people making the decisions, which he called an unhealthy way to govern. He said people sometimes feel disconnected from the government, in the sense that what happens in Charleston has little or no effect on them. But he insisted that isn't true, and pointed to the fact that he campaigned on raising pay for teachers, which became a huge issue at the legislature.

"My opponent at the time, who's now in the House of Delegates, voted several times against teacher pay raises and was part of the reason why the school system was closed for nearly two weeks back in the winter,” he said. “These elections ultimately have a direct effect on our daily lives."

To increase turnout, Snyder said he favors automatic voter registration, more opportunities to vote early, and making Election Day a holiday so working people have time to cast their ballots.

Check your registration and polling site here.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV