Why [Most Of] You Should Vote Third-Party

So… People talk about a vote for Gary Johnson being a vote for Hillary (even though some say he poaches more Dems than Reps), and how a vote for Jill Stein is a vote for Trump.

I mean, almost nobody is actually excited about voting FOR Trump or FOR Hillary, but they’re scared that a vote for a third party increases the odds that the anti-Christ from the other party will get elected and destroy America. So the stakes are, of course, VERY high.

But really… What is the penalty for voting third party? What is the penalty for most of the people in the US? Does a third-party vote really make a difference to the outcome?

The answer is no. And we have the Electoral College to thank(?) for that.

According to Wikipedia (I know, it’s not the MOST reliable source, but it’s close enough for government work), somewhere around 73% of Electoral Votes are basically already sewn up. Those are from states that are historically not competitive in the slightest.

From the results of presidential elections from 2004 through to 2012, a general conclusion can be reached that the Democratic and Republican parties start with a default electoral vote count of about 191 each.[8] In this scenario, the twelve competitive states are Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Ohio, Iowa, Virginia, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Colorado, and North Carolina.[9]

For example, I live in California. I know flat out that Hillary is winning California. And thus Hillary has effectively already locked up California’s electoral votes simply by winning the nomination.

So a vote for Trump in California accomplishes nothing. It is a wasted vote. In fact, it’s worse than that, because it’s a vote that–should he be elected–signifies that he has broader national popular support than he does. And a vote for Hillary? Although I’d be voting for the winner of my state, again, it’s a wasted vote. And it signifies again a broader amount of national popular support than is warranted.

And in a state like Alabama, for example, the reverse is true. Trump will win Alabama handily. It’s not in play, so your vote for a major party candidate does NOT meaningfully affect the outcome.

What about a vote for Gary Johnson (or Jill Stein)? Well, even though it’s unlikely either one will win, every vote cast for either them is effectively a vote of no confidence in the major party candidates. My vote doesn’t do anything to change the likely outcome of the election, but it sends an actual message to whichever R or D wins. It sends the message that I don’t support either of them.

Of course, some will ask “what if”? What if something really strange occurs and my vote is the deciding factor in whether or not Trump wins California, or someone in Alabama is the deciding factor if Hillary wins there? My answer to that is simple: if California or Alabama are actually “in play” in 2016, it means that one candidate is winning in a landslide, and at that point not only do individual votes not matter, individual states don’t matter.

I understand the idea of voting pragmatically, of voting for the major party candidate that could possibly stop your dreaded, horrible, evil opponent from taking the Oath of Office.

But for roughly 392 Electoral Votes, your vote does NOT affect the outcome. There is NO penalty to voting third party. It’s not a vote for the opposing candidate.

So why not try it, just once? If you’re not happy with either candidate, and you don’t live in one of the dozen or so “swing states” where the individual state outcome might decide the election, vote your conscience. Unlike Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I’m pretty sure a vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein will make you feel a whole lot better about yourself on November 9th.