What's the value of a single vote?

In 2008, Alaska Congressman Mike Kelly won re-election by a single vote after a recount of more than 10,000 ballots.

Last year, Amy Mitchell was elected mayor of Sugar Land, Tex. by a single vote after a recount.

If that's too recent, consider that in 1800, Thomas Jefferson was elected President by one vote in the House of Representatives after a tie in the electoral college.

Think about that before you think about skipping a trip to the polls on Tuesday.

Fairfield has a proud tradition of turning out at the polls in robust numbers for presidential elections.

With other critical federal races and equally important local legislative contests on Fairfield ballots, shame on us if we don't do it again on Tuesday.

The glamor race, of course, is Obama-Romney battle for the White House. But Fairfield voters will have more immediate impact on a pair of other federal races.

A nasty contest for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Joe Lieberman will be decided. Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat Chris Murphy have swapped charges and counter charges.

Also on the ballot is a spirited battle for the 4th District Congressional seat between incumbent Democrat Jim Himes and Republican challenger Steve Obsitnik.

Even within our own town borders, contests for state legislature will have important consequences.

Connecticut last year passed record tax increases, including a retroactive hike in the state income tax. Despite that, the state's finances are foundering.

As for the state's economy, we continue to shed jobs, and unemployment has hit 9 percent -- higher than the nation as a whole.

Votes cast in Fairfield in three state House districts will have impact on how those problems are addressed.

Of the three, the contest in the 133rd House District has been the most heated. Incumbent Democrat Kim Fawcett has criticized the conservative views of Republican challenger Chris DeSanctis, while DeSanctis' supporters have attacked Fawcett's attendance record at House committee meetings.

In the 132nd District, Republican incumbent Brenda Kupchick has stressed a pro-small-business and constituent-service agenda, while Democratic challenger Sue Brand has focused on her background in health care and education.

In the 134th District, which includes part of Trumbull, incumbent Republican Tony Hwang has stressed visibility, service to constituents and community involvement. Democratic challenger Heather Dean has called for help for small businesses, transportation improvement and education reform, and she says plainly she can do a better job than the incumbent.

Candidates for those seats in Hartford make their pitches for your votes on the following pages of this Opinion section. So find your districts and do your homework.

What's a single vote worth?

Andrew Jackson is no longer around to remind you, so we will.

In 1824, Old Hickory won the popular vote for president. But the electoral college tied, and he lost in the House of Representatives to John Quincy Adams -- by a single vote.