Practically everyone has heard the saying that every vote counts — and voters in the McAlester Public Schools District got a firsthand look at that in 2015.
Based on the math in that case, one vote could mount an argument that even “less” than every vote counts.
Here’s the equation.
During a school bond election held in February 2015, McAlester Public Schools’ Proposition 1 for technology and safety upgrades ended up failing by one vote — or less.
It worked out like this:
The number of “yes” votes required to reach the 60 percent threshold needed to pass the bond issue changed with every addition or subtraction of ballots.
So, while the issue was initially two votes short following the Feb. 10 election night results, everything had to be recalculated when provisional ballots were added to the mix. A provisional ballot is a ballot that is given to a voter when there is an issue as to whether the voter is properly registered, whether a voter should be casting a ballot at that particular precinct, or some related issue.
In that case, a voter is given a provisional ballot — meaning the election board will meet later in the week and determine whether the provisional ballot should be included in the grand total of official election results.
Likewise, recalculations had to occur when a supposed “no” vote was deemed ineligible during the recount and subsequently removed from the total ballots cast.
With the vote so close, a recount was requested and approved. Election officials then manually recounted all 1,248 ballots. They also threw out one ballot deemed improperly marked.
With one fewer ballot in the mix, the total number of ballots dropped to 1,247. Because the ballot was originally counted as a “no” vote, the total “no” votes dropped to 499. The percentages changed once again. With 748 “yes” votes, 59.98 percent of the ballots counted were for passing the proposition — just short of the 60 percent threshold required to pass a regular school bond proposition in Oklahoma.
With 499 “no” votes, the disapproval rate dropped to 40.02 percent. With 1,247 valid votes cast, the issue needed 748.2 votes to pass — a mark it still didn’t reach because of the .2 margin. Since someone can’t make a .2 percent vote, it looked like the measure was still a “yes” vote short.
The Pittsburg County Election Board verified 748 total votes in favor of passing the school bond measure, with 499 votes against it.
It’s computer rounded to 60.0 percent “yes” and 40.0 percent “no” — but 60 percent of the total 1,247 votes cast and verified, is 748.2.
The local election board contacted the Oklahoma Election Board, which left it up to McAlester Public Schools District and the bond company to determine whether the measure passed.
MPS conceded the loss and did not pursue further action.
The proposition failed by two-tenths of a vote.
So there it is, proof that every single vote counts.
Remember that when election day rolls around on Tuesday — and during every election day hereafter.
The McAlester News-Capital Editorial Board