After the ballots were tabulated following last Tuesday’s special election for the Glenwood Community School District's 10-year Instructional Support Levy (ISL), the vote was deadlocked at 434 in favor and 434 against.
Because a simple majority was not attained, the levy had seemingly failed to pass.
And that’s when things got interesting.
County election officials announced late Tuesday night that one absentee ballot was still outstanding.
Alex Martin, 20, was that absentee voter. He voted for the first time last November, also by absentee ballot, and told The Opinion-Tribune he voted yes to the ISL. On Jan. 28, he mailed his ballot to the Mills County Auditor’s Office.
On Feb. 6, three days after the election, Alex learned there was a problem. His ballot had been returned to his house due to insufficient postage.
Alex and his brother Zack, 18, immediately contacted the county auditor’s office to explain the situation. Both think the postage fell off the envelope leading to its return. After consulting with personnel in the auditor’s office, the brothers hand delivered Alex’s still-sealed absentee ballot to the courthouse a little after 4:30 p.m. Friday. They were told Alex’s vote would be canvassed and they left feeling like they had done their little bit for Democracy and the district’s ISL.
“I’m glad to help future generations,” said Alex. “Glenwood is a nice town and the school helped me a lot and I wanted to give back.”
Zack said his brother Alex, who is autistic, followed the ISL process closely and saw the vote as his way of making a difference in a school system that made such a differnce for him.
“He really wanted it to pass,” said Zack. “He knew it would be helpful and help students. He knows how much the district did for him so he wanted to do something to give back.”
Zack, a senior at Glenwood Community High School who plans to study poltical science in college, considers himself a politically-active voter. His first reaction to his brother’s potential role in such an important vote stirred some powerful feelings.
“My first reaction was that it was pretty funny that it was coming down to one vote and it looked like it was my brother’s vote,” said Zack. “Of all the people to decide an election. When I found out (the election could come down to one vote) it just made me think of all those people that say their one vote doesn’t matter.”
Despite the unorthodox manner in which Alex’s ballot was eventually returned to the auditor’s office, Zack firmly believes his brother’s vote should be included in the final tally.
“I think it’s a sad reflection on democracy that everyone has the right to vote but this one vote won’t count because a stamp fell off and that shouldn’t decide an election,” said Zack. “I think everyone can see what we got in Washington the last eight years and how not counting every vote in Florida (in 2000) led to that. All the votes should count. How can you leave something to the voters and then let other people decide what votes do or don’t count?”