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With tight election looming, no shortage of reminders every vote counts
Freeman Clark was on his deathbed.
We don't know for sure what his ailment was, but the year was 1844, and it could have been any number of things.
Perhaps even Freeman wasn't sure just how sick he was, but he knew one thing for sure, he had to get to the county seat of Switzerland County, Indiana, to vote for his friend, David Kelso, for state senator.
You see, Freeman Clark owed his life to Kelso, who had defended him in a murder trial years before, winning an acquittal.
So Freeman begged his sons to carry him to the county seat so he could cast his vote. His insistence finally cost him his life, as he died on his way back home, but Kelso won the election -- by one vote.
When Kelso got to the Indiana statehouse, he found himself in the Democratic majority of one, controlling the Indiana senate.
He couldn't agree with his party, however, which was planning to nominate for U.S. Senate -- it was state senators' job in those days -- a man who promised to vote against the annexation of Texas if elected to the U.S. Senate.
Kelso refused to vote for the party's choice, however, and threatened to vote with the Whigs if the Democratic Party didn't vote for the alternative candidate he proposed, Edward A. Hannigan.
The Democrats caved in, electing Hannigan by one vote -- Kelso's.
The next year, Texas was admitted to the union as a state by one vote -- that of Edward A. Hannigan of Indiana.
Thus, Texas owed its statehood to one ailing Indiana man.
Of course, those are only a few examples of instances where one vote changed the course of history.
A few notable others:
* On Nov. 8, 1923, members of a newly formed political party elected, by one vote, an ex-soldier named Adolf Hitler to become the Nazi Party leader.
* In 1941, the Selective Service Act (draft) was saved by a one-vote margin, just weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
* In 1948, if Thomas E. Dewey had gotten one vote more in each Ohio and California precinct, the election would have been thrown into the U.S. House of Representatives, where Dewey had more support than his opponent, incumbent Harry Truman. As Dewey was expected to win by a landslide, many Republicans stayed home and Truman was sent back to the White House with 51.5 percent of the electorate vote.
* In 1960, if just one vote per precinct in Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey and Texas would have changed, Richard Nixon would have been elected president instead of John F. Kennedy.
In more recent terms, most of us remember that the Affordable Care Act -- more commonly called Obamacare, even by the president himself -- passed in the U.S. Senate by one vote, attributed to Sen. Ben Nelson of McCook.
With most national polls showing President Obama and Mitt Romney in a dead heat, now is not the time for voters to sit out the election. Let's hope the election turns out to be a decisive decision for whomever wins, giving him a mandate and setting the course of the nation for the coming years.