If there were ever an election that proves every vote counts and dispels, hopefully forever, the notion that “My vote doesn’t matter,” it was the 2020 Presidential election. President-Elect Joe Biden and President Donald J. Trump were separated by a mere 3.6 percent — 50.8 percent to 47.2 percent. Biden received more than 5.5 million more votes than Trump nationally to win the popular vote, but as we all now know, from the 2016 election, the popular vote doesn’t matter in presidential elections. Hillary Clinton also won the popular vote in 2016 by 2,868,686 votes, but lost crucial electoral rich states — Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
On election night several states hung in the balance between winning and losing — Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada — and Georgia, a state that had not voted for a Democrat for president in 28 years when Bill Clinton was the candidate. In Georgia, Biden won by 14,172 votes out of 4,930,192 cast — or 0.29 percent. He won Pennsylvania by 66,334 votes or 0.97 percent. That’s why every vote counts. Every vote matters. This election saw 22,926,133 more voters than in 2016.
Georgia is at the center of the electoral universe. Why? Not only for the presidential election but the state’s two U.S. Senate seats will be decided in a runoff January 5, 2021. The combatants, Democrats Rev. Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff, against Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Interesting note: Perdue garnered 706 more votes than President Trump. In case you didn’t know, that’s not supposed to happen.
The upcoming runoff elections are critically important for both parties. The Republicans need the two Senate seats to maintain control of the body and Democrats need the seats to wrest control of the Senate from Republicans. What does control mean? Aside from the party in the majority being able to name every Senate committee chair and skewing committee memberships in favor of the party, the majority party sets the agenda. No better example of that power was in the recent confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader, pushed her confirmation through just days before the election — just as he blocked President Barack Obama’s nominee for the court, Judge Merrick Garland — because he said it would be untoward to confirm a nominee in an election year. I guess he forgot.
McConnell is also famous for saying he would work to make President Obama a “one term president.” That effort failed, but he blocked many of Obama’s initiatives. If Biden is going to avoid the same fate, he needs both Georgia Senate seats. The body will be evenly split 50-50, if that comes to pass, but in the case of a tie, Vice President Kamala Harris, could step in and cast the tie breaking vote.
That means our work as voters isn’t near over. January 5, 2021 is crucial and the real stars of the election — the voters — need to show up at the polls or use absentee ballots in an even greater degree than they did for the November 3, election. There is still room to grow the vote. In Clayton County, only 58.3 percent of the county’s voters cast ballots. In Macon-Bibb County 65.91 percent of registered voters cast ballots, meaning 34.09 percent didn’t make it to the polls. In Houston County the turnout figure was 71.37 percent; in Peach, 69.93 percent. In the big counties of Gwinnett (165,009); Fulton (277,674); DeKalb (173,367) and Cobb (141,060), there were 757,110 registered voters who missed their chance to vote.
Therein lies the lesson. If you didn’t vote November 3, you can still vote on January 5, 2021. If you aren’t registered, you can register on or before December 7, 2020. And for those of us who voted on November 3, think about this: we were all part of the collective body that helped elect the next president of the United States by 14,172 votes.
Written by Charles E. Richardson