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What if Tedisco loses by one vote?

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
The Albany Times-Union has a funny story ahead of today's special election in NY-20 about voters in the Upstate town of Schenectedy, N.Y., who have been trying to vote but aren't allowed to.

The NY-20 cuts through part of the town, and voters have been pulling up to traditional polling places by the carload hoping to vote. They've been leaving confused after they're told they're not allowed to because they don't live in the district.

Who can blame some of them -- what with the $2 million worth of ads both candidates and parties have run that have blanketed the region? And they are used to Republican Jim Tedisco's name being on the ballot, as he's represented them in the state assembly for three decades.

Ironically, one person who'd be part of the turned-away voters would be Tedisco himself.

Those who've followed the race closely know the long-time state legislator doesn't live in the district, and therefore wouldn't be able to vote for himself. (Republicans have made an issue of Democrat Scott Murphy having been born in Missouri.) Tedisco has pledged that if he wins, he'll move to the district.

This election is expected to be very close. And let's hope for Tedisco's sake that he doesn't lose by one vote.

It's not completely unheard of, by the way. In fact, here's a rundown of a handful of examples of elections decided by a single vote through the years:

  • In the 1829 election for the U.S. House of Representatives in Kentucky's 2nd District, Jackson Democrat Nicholas Coleman defeated National Republican Adam Beatty 2,520 to 2,519.
  • In the 1847 election for the U.S. House of Representatives in Indiana's 6th District, Whig candidate George G. Dunn defeated Democratic candidate David M. Dobson 7,455 to 7,454. Also in 1847, Whig Thomas S. Flournoy defeated a Democratic candidate named Treadway 650 to 649 in the race for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 3rd District of Virginia.
  • In the 1854 election for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 7th District of Illinois, Democratic candidate James C. Allen bested Republican William B. Archer 8,452 to 8,451.
  • In the 1882 election for U.S. House of Representatives in the 1st District of Virginia, Readjuster Robert M. Mayo defeated Democrat George T. Garrison 10,505 to 10,504.

And more recently in presidential politics:

  • In 2000, Al Gore defeated George W. Bush in Clay County, Mo., by a single vote, 39,084 to 39,083. Not to mention the less than 600-vote difference that determined the outcome of Florida and the election.

Other recent examples in non-federal elections:

  • In 1977, Vermont state Rep. 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 lost to Robert Emond, 572 to 571.
  • In 1994, Republican Randall Luthi and Independent Larry Call tied for the 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 Ping Pong ball bearing his name was pulled from the cowboy hat of Democratic Gov. Mike Sullivan.
  • In 1997, South Dakota Democrat John McIntyre led Republican Hal Wick 4,195-4,191 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 46-20.