Voting doesn't count? Tell that to the losers of these close contests

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.