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4 Common Misconceptions About Voting Third Party in the USA

Though I don’t tend to tell people (online at least) who I vote for, I make it no secret I vote third party. This had led to several comments that have made it clear people don’t seem to understand how voting third party in the US works. Here is my tongue in cheek response, in no particular order, to 4 common misconceptions.

1. Voting third party is throwing your vote away

When I walk into a polling place with my ballot intending to vote third party I do NOT crumple up the ballot and throw it into the trash can. I fill it out and turn it in. Now when the check my ballot they do not throw it away either. They actually take my vote and apply it to the candidate I have chosen.

2. By not voting for major party candidate A I am voting for major party candidate B

The assertion is that by not voting for A I am in fact voting for B. Now there are a couple of problems with this reasoning. If by not voting for A means a vote for B, would not voting for B mean I am voting for A. So in this model by not voting for either I am both voting for both and not voting for both at the same time. This confusion over how voting works extends further. When they process my ballot and find out I voted for third party candidate C they DO NOT apply that vote to either A or B. They actually give my vote to the candidate I chose

3. You shouldn’t vote if you can’t win

I don’t even have anything funny or clever to say about this. It’s just plain old stupid.

4. You should vote for the lessor of two evils*

If you have the choice between voting for Satan, A lessor demon, or a respectable person, the moral choice is the respectable person/platform. Hmmm my ballot has Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and reasonable human on it. Stalin killed more people but Hitler was really bad… Let me get out my evil scale to determine which is the lessor evil. 

* I do acknowledge cases in which this may actually be a choice you can make with a clear conscience. 

1 Comment

  1. Katie Zeller

    While not being impressed with the 2 major third party candidates this election season (a clumsy turn of phrase) I think that having a third or fourth major party in the US would go far in breaking up the current polarized political system…. starting with the House and Senate (who should also have term limits). In the meantime I'm doing what you did during the world series. (yes, I already voted)

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