"One American citizen will effectively choose the next President of the United States" Chris Matthews opines for viewers in the movie Swing Vote. The little-seen movie, which comes with the tagline, "A nobody becomes the voice of everybody," is a story about Kevin Costner being able to decide the fate of a presidential election due to a voting error.
On a smaller scale, in Missouri, one woman has found herself in such a position.
Meet Jen Henderson, a student at Mizzou. At present, she is the only person capable of voting on a sales tax increase (expected to yield over $200,000) in a newly formed "Community Improvement District."
The Columbia Tribune reports:
The Columbia City Council established the district on a 5-2 vote in April in response to a petition from a group of property owners in the CID boundaries. The “qualified voters” in a CID are capable of levying various taxes or assessments within the boundaries of the district to fund improvement projects. Under state law, decisions to impose sales taxes in a CID are to be made by registered voters living in the district boundaries. If no such registered voters are present, property owners vote.
The CID planned to hold an August election to enact a half-cent sales tax, projected to bring in about $220,000 of additional revenue for capital improvement projects. CID Executive Director Carrie Gartner said when CID officials contacted the Boone County Clerk’s Office about holding the election, they found out Henderson registered to vote with her Business Loop address in February.
Alas, when drawing the boundaries, the council overlooked Henderson, who is the only registered voter in the CID, which effectively makes her the decider of whether or not the levy passes.
For her part, Henderson is not pleased with the behavior of some of the tax's boosters. She tells the Tribune:
Henderson said she doesn’t want her involvement with the CID to be private. She said Gartner initially approached her in June to explain the goals of the CID and ask her to consider “unregistering her vote” so the property owners could make the decision. The more she researched the situation, Henderson said, things “just didn’t seem to be as good as they were saying to me at first.”
Gartner “tried to get me to unregister, and that’s pretty manipulative,” Henderson said. “The district plan and the district border is manipulative, too.”
Henderson hasn't told the press how she intends to vote, and the board may ultimately cancel the vote.
One thing is for sure: For those who joke that votes never really matter, they're wrong. It just takes an inept government bureaucracy to make them matter.