This is tough to write. I’ve been told many things this election cycle. I’ve been told that voting third party in a red state like Idaho is just a vote for Hillary. Friends I know have been told the same thing in blue states: a vote for a third party candidate is a vote for Trump. It’s bullshit, and it’s about time someone said so.
I am not exercising my white privilege by voting outside party lines. I am not wasting my vote, no matter who I vote for. A vote for a third party candidate is just that: a vote for that candidate.
A coworker put it this way: if we are voting on what to have for lunch, and the majority wins no matter how large the majority, then a few things are true.
If it is a winner-takes-all situation for electoral votes, than any vote over the 50.1 percent is technically “wasted” and does not count. The candidate, or lunch choice in the office example, does not need more votes than that to win. So if in the office lunch vote we have five choices: sandwiches, tacos, pizza, salad bar, or sushi, the choice with even 21 percent of the vote wins. The choice does not even have to get a majority. If tacos get 25 percent of the vote, the 4 percent above 20 percent is a waste, except that it shows that more office personnel than the needed votes also want tacos.
In the case of a presidential nominee, if there are three choices in a state, the electoral votes from that state goes to whichever candidate gets the most votes with the exception of Nebraska and Maine, where the electoral votes are divided proportionally by the voting percentage each candidate wins. This means in a three-candidate race, a 34 percent vote could win, all things being equal. Any vote above that needed percentage or number is unnecessary for the candidate to prevail,and therefore “wasted. “
Not all the votes really count, only the votes the candidate needs to win. The only thing votes above the required number show is a candidate’s popularity, but they do not affect the outcome of the election.
A Vote for Tacos is Never a Vote for Pizza
I am tired of hearing from both sides that a vote for any third party candidate is a vote for Hillary or Trump. It isn’t. That is one side trying to guilt you into voting for something you do not want just because they want it and perhaps hate the alternative.
For instance, an office coworker who is on a diet and hates pizza may try to tell you that your vote for tacos is a vote for pizza because they want a salad bar. To them, any vote for anything but the salad bar, especially if pizza is clearly winning, is a vote for pizza because you are dividing the vote.
This implies there is something wrong with you voting for the food you want because it does not match their taste or the majority that is trending. But you do not have to like or vote for either one. Your vote for tacos is still a vote for tacos, and although it may not make a difference in the outcome overall, your vote is your right to express your opinion.
Voting Should Not Be About Fear
Voting is not about a party affiliation. It is not about someone else’s political agenda. Women and minorities fought for the right to vote for a single reason: they wanted their voice to be heard. Even if your voice is small, you still have a right to speak. And voting is about you exercising that right as an American citizen.
If anyone is afraid to voice their opinion by voting for a third party candidate or simply by not voting because they hate the choices laid out in front of them, then we have taken from them their right to free speech, their right to vote for who they want, and their right to be heard.
I’m tired of voting against things. Maybe my vote and others like mine will split the independent voters. Maybe my candidate is pulling more votes from either Trump or Hillary, and probably one of them will win despite anything third party voters do.
But either way, I am going to vote for something for a change. And I wish people would stop telling me my vote does not count.