A History of Close Elections


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Never think that your vote won't matter…

  • In 1800, Thomas Jefferson was elected President by one vote in the House of Representatives after a tie in the Electoral College.
  • In 1824, Andrew Jackson won the presidential popular vote but lost by one vote in the House of Representatives to John Quincy Adams after an Electoral College dead-lock.
  • In 1845, the U.S. Senate passed the convention annexing Texas by two votes (27/25).
  • In 1846, President James Polk's request for a Declaration of War against Mexico passed by one vote.
  • In 1867, the Alaska purchase was ratified in the United States Senate by two votes, opening the way for future statehood.
  • In 1868, President Andrew Johnson was impeached, but not convicted, because the United States Senate was one vote short of the necessary two thirds required.
  • In 1876, Samuel Tilden won the presidential popular vote but came up one electoral vote short and lost to Rutherford B. Hayes who became President of the United States.
  • In 1948, a Texas Convention voted for Lyndon B. Johnson over former Governor Coke Steven in a contested Senatorial election. Senator Johnson went on to become President of the United States.
  • In 1962, Governors of Maine, Rhode Island, and North Dakota were elected by an average of one vote per precinct.
  • In 1994, only 1.1 votes per precinct in Alaska elected Tony Knowles as Governor and Fran Ulmer as Lt. Governor out of 216,668 votes cast in the General Election.
  • In 1994, Republican Randall Luthi and Independent Larry Call tied for a seat in the Wyoming House of Representatives from the Jackson Hole area with 1,941 votes each. A recount produced the same result. Mr. Luthi was finally declared the winner when, in a drawing before the State Canvassing Board, a pingpong ball bearing his name was pulled from the cowboy hat of Democratic Governor Mike Sullivan.
  • In 1997, Vermont State Representative Sydney Nixon was seated as an apparent one vote winner, 570 to 569. Mr. Nixon resigned when the State House determined, after a recount, that he had actually lost to his opponent Robert Emond 572 to 571.
  • In 1997, South Dakota Democrat John McIntyre led Republican Hal Wick 4,195 to 4,191 for the second seat in Legislative District 12 on election night. A subsequent recount showed Wick the winner at 4,192 to 4,191. The State Supreme Court, however, ruled that one ballot counted for Wick was invalid due to an over vote. This left the race a tie. After hearing arguments from both sides, the State Legislature voted to seat Wick 46 to 20.
  • In 2000, the Presidential election was decided by a very close margin. George W. Bush won the state of Florida by just 537 votes, making him the President of the United States. Close to 6 million voters went to the polls in Florida. Clearly, every vote counted.
  • In 2006, Connecticut's 2nd U.S. Congressional seat was won by Joe Courtney with 121,252 votes to Rob Simmons' 121,158; a difference of only 94 votes.
  • In 2008, in Stockton, California, the Stockton Unified School Trustee Area No. 3 seat was won by one vote. Jose Morales received 2,302 votes while Anthony Silva received 2,301.
  • In 2008, Minnesota voters cast 2.9 million votes in their U.S. Senate race that eventually was decided by 312 votes (1/100th of one percent).
  • In 2012, in Walton, Kentucky the race for a Walton City Council seat ended up in a tie when candidate Bobby McDonald didn't want to wake his wife to vote as she had worked late at a local hospital and was finishing nurse's training in college. "You never think it will come down to one vote, but I'm here to tell you that it does," he said. The winner was decided by a coin toss.




"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Edmund Burke


"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something, and I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do."

Edward Everett Hale



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