What if you made a small mistake, whereby your vote was added to Donald Trump's pile -- and he won?
Impossible? Let's take a look.
First, we know that neither Libertarian Gary Johnson nor the Green Party's Jill Stein has any realistic hope of winning the Presidency this time. A recent Real Clear Politics poll put Johnson at roughly 8% and Stein at 3%.
Key fact: votes going to either Johnson or Stein are generally votes which would otherwise go to Hillary Clinton.
If enough votes are bled away from Hillary, giving the Presidency to Donald Trump, what would that mean -- for the issues important to Johnson and Stein?
Johnson's key concern is the national debt.
Trump has promised to lower the national debt, but that seems hardly possible, given all of his other commitments. How could he increase the military budget, reduce taxes on the wealthy and the corporations, and maintain Social Security -- while lowering the national debt?
Non-partisan experts predict Trump's approach would more than double the debt by 2025: "from $14 trillion to $35.2 trillion."
And if the national debt gets too high even for him, what is his proposed solution? "You print the money..." he says. Just print more money?
This approach was tried in Germany, after World War One. It was an utter failure. When the government printed too much money, prices skyrocketed. People's savings were wiped out, and "a wheelbarrow full of money would not even buy a newspaper." As conditions worsened, the public increasingly listened to Hitler -- inflation was a major cause of World War Two.
Stein's main issue is global temperature change.
Is Trump concerned about the droughts and fires, floods and crop shortages of global warming? He considers global temperature change a hoax, and has vowed to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency. He also calls for removing most government regulations and putting a moratorium on new ones. If we cannot pressure industry to clean up their waste toxins, what can we expect but more and more pollution?
Stein and Johnson represent their parties' platforms very well.
But what good is even the most "perfect" candidate, if he/she cannot be elected?
Remember George McGovern? In office, the South Dakotan Baptist minister might have been wonderful -- but there was that small problem of electability. McGovern lost 49 states, whereby we got Nixon.
And Ralph Nader? The 97,488 votes he won in Florida gave the state to George W. Bush. Subtract Nader's votes, and Al Gore would have become president...
Trying for a "perfect" candidate can be a disaster; we may end up with someone diametrically opposed to our values.
This is especially important this election, with the Supreme Court hanging in the balance. Look at the list of ultra-conservative judges Trump has promised to choose from -- and remember these are lifetime appointments.
According to Nobel Prize-winning mathematician Paul Krugman, "Mrs. Clinton has staked out the most progressive policy positions ever advocated by a presidential candidate."
But a vote for a third party now is a vote for Donald Trump.
Remember in November -- vote! And bring a disabled neighbor to the polls!
Don C. Reed is the author of "STEM CELL BATTLES: Proposition 71 and Beyond: How Ordinary People Can Fight Back Against the Crushing Burden of Chronic Disease".
Available now from Amazon.com.