In this particularly tumultuous political season, many people have expressed dislike of one or both of the two main presidential candidates: Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. Among this discourse, some people want to vote for a third-party candidate instead of choosing a lesser of two evils.
Though the inclination to vote with one’s heart and for those they completely believe in is admirable, it can also be detrimental to an overall cause. The chances of a third-party candidate winning is slim to none because of the lack of media attention. Not enough people know about them so, in the grand scheme of the entire country, votes for them won’t count for enough to win. Even if the third-parties as a whole are able to get enough votes to be a formidable presence, the candidates themselves will not win because there are multiple third-parties, like the Green Party and the Libertarian Party. For example, if, by a miracle, thirty percent of the vote does not go toward Clinton or Trump, those who make up that thirty percent cannot win because that fraction is broken up further into two or more people.
Though a third-party candidate has very little chance of winning, they do have the ability to change the outcome of the election for the bipartisan candidates, especially in a race as close as this. This effect was seen in the 2000 election, when George W. Bush won over Al Gore. The race was so close that Gore even won the popular vote, but lost the electoral vote by five votes. A recount even took place and a lawsuit followed. The third-party candidate, Ralph Nader, made a big impact in this because even though he did not win enough popular votes to make a difference, or any electoral votes, he did swing Florida and New Hampshire to Bush. Because this race was so close, these two states had the power to change the entire election. This can again happen in this election, where Clinton and Trump are separated by just a handful of percentage points.
Some insist that voting for a third party candidate is wasting your vote, but this is not true. Though that candidate probably won't win, their vote, which could have gone to either of the bipartisan candidates, can make a difference in the overall election. Voting for a third party candidate is still voting, which is a civic duty, but one must ask themselves if the outcome of voting this way is worth it just for the satisfaction of going against the bipartisan system. When thinking logically, there are only two plausible options for president: Clinton or Trump.
Knowing this, many people will still choose to vote third-party with the justification that they must vote their conscience. This can be easy to say if one believes that Trump and Clinton are equally horrible. However, because they stand for two entirely different ideologies, a voter must choose which candidate would be better for the country because those are the only two plausible options. If you or someone you know still feel that voting third-party is necessary, ask yourself how you would feel if the win goes to the worse of two evils.
Lead Image Credit: Thom Sheridan via Flickr Creative Commons