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4/25/2014 6:00:00 AM
Voting doesn't count? Tell that to the losers of these close contests

Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

The causes of low voter turnout can be debated without end, but the notion that votes don't count is a false one.

While presidents are elected through the Electoral College and not the popular vote, it is rare to win the White House without also winning the popular vote.

Here's a look at the five closest presidential elections in history.

• No. 5 involves two elections and both feature Founding Fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

In 1796, Adams beat Thomas by three electoral votes, 71-68. Four years later, in 1800, voters showed their fickle side and gave Jefferson the nod over Adams, 73-65.

• In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes defeated Samuel Tilden by a single electoral vote, 185-184, for the No. 4 spot.

The electoral votes of four states were disputed and Congress kicked the issue to the Electoral Commission, which handed the presidency to Hayes. Sound familiar? It should.

This was the prequel to Bush v. Gore, which we will get to shortly.

• In 1916, Woodrow Wilson defeated Charles Evans Hughes by a scant 23 electoral votes, 277-254 to earn No. 3.

• Here's one many readers will remember: In 1960, John Kennedy beat Richard Nixon 303-219, and the popular vote was separated by mere fractions, making the election one of the closest in history. Kennedy won both contests by the slightest of margins to land at No. 2.

• Forty years later, the presidency was in doubt like never before. In 2000, George Bush and Al Gore played starring roles in the closest presidential election in U.S. history.

Bush took the election with 271 to 266 electoral votes, and he became the first president to lose the popular vote - by a narrow one half of 1 percent - and still win the White House since Benjamin Harrison won more electoral votes than did an apparently more popular Grover Cleveland in 1888.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, May 3, 2014
Article comment by: mr. parker

Since house districts are based on population, let whoever wins that election, vote in the house for president. Under this scenario, B0 would've won in 2008 and Mitt Romney would've won in 2012. We would be much better off now.

The seeds for 9/11 were planted long before W was elected. Negligence by Bill "The Counselor" Clinton in not removing UBL when he had the chance and his tepid responses to the many terror attacks during his administration emboldened al-Qaida.

In 2000, the final tally in FL as examined by at least 5 news agencies was that W carried FL by 472 votes. Drop the left wing nut job fantasies.

@VS: I believe ME and NE do that, they have a proportional electoral vote. CO almost did it but they realized that no candidate would spend much time in the state and they would have no relevance. Same with other less populated states.

Posted: Friday, May 2, 2014
Article comment by: joker wilde

If you live in Mohave County and you're not a right-wing extremist, what is the use?

Posted: Friday, May 2, 2014
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith

What I find truly disgusting are situations as Calif. Prop. 8 and some dork fed. judge who doesn't like or agree with the voters' choice simply overturns it. That is Abuse of Power!! It sets a disastrous precedent for the entire country and voters everywhere!!

Posted: Saturday, April 26, 2014
Article comment by: Oh Ya

Thus is one of the problems and why I can understand why some people do not turn out to vote. On top of that add to the fact that neither party has had a very good choice of candidates for the last 15 years or so. Add to that had the Bush-Gore election gone with the popular vote, 9/11 may not have happened and 7,000 of our troops would not have died over a war based on outright lies.

Posted: Friday, April 25, 2014
Article comment by: V Stokes

"The individual voter has almost no control over electoral votes..."

The only way is when a majority of a State votes for one candidate...then they get all the electoral votes. Ridiculous and a waste of time and money.

Count the individual votes, add them all up...he with the most wins. Cut out the middleman and you almost always get a better result. Or at least give a percentage of the electoral vote to each candidate based on the popular vote. We aren't living in the 1800's where it takes weeks to get results to D.C.

I really feel some people feel that their vote doesn't matter or it's always the lesser of two evils. I also feel that candidates (P and VP or G and VG or Secretary of State as it's known here) should not have to run on the same ticket. Some States do it that way, others don't. Always better to have 2 different viewpoints looking at an issue.

Posted: Friday, April 25, 2014
Article comment by: Frances Perkins

Seems a trifle mixed up history. The individual voter has almost no control over electoral votes, unless you were Judge Scalia or one of the other 4 in the 5-4 vote of the year 2000 Supreme Court coup d'tat.

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