This editorial dissent was written by Madison Gouveia and signed by Austin Vitelli and Gaby Morera. They did not agree with the majority opinion expressed in the editorial. That editorial can be found here.
Regardless of whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton wins the 2016 presidential election, more than half the nation will be unhappy.
Many voters have even resorted to casting a ballot in spite of the candidate they hate most, as opposed to in support of the candidate they like most. A vote which by definition is a protest vote.
The 2016 election is no longer Republican or Democrat — it is Hillary or Donald.
So what do you do if you find yourself in the group of undecided voters who would rather cut an arm off than have this election? Or if you’d like to keep your arm, but absolutely can’t bring yourself to vote for either candidate?
Some would argue that rather than cast a vote for a third-party candidate that statistically may not count, an undecided voter should vote for “the lesser of two evils.”
If you can determine who you feel that is, and it behooves you to vote accordingly, then you should. But if you feel that neither is “the lesser of two evils,” you should not be bullied into voting for one out of fear of being blamed for the other’s victory.
Casting a vote for a third-party candidate is frowned upon because it is believed the vote is a waste, as a third-party candidate has never obtained enough votes to win and is “taking votes away” from one of the traditional candidates.
In the 1992 election Bill Clinton was elected with 43 percent of the vote, to George H.W. Bush’s 37.5 percent. When Ross Perot received 19 percent of the vote, the most in third-party history, Bush supporters believed he “took votes away from Bush”.
But, according to an MSNBC report, in the exit poll conducted on Election Day, only 38 percent of Perot’s backers said Bush was their second choice. Thirty-eight percent also said Clinton was. While this misunderstanding became known as The Perot Myth, its flawed logic is still used to discourage third-party voting.
The idea is third-party voters will swing the election “the wrong way,” but who is to determine what the wrong way is when the nation is divided on which candidate is the “right” choice? If the “right” choice were abundantly clear to all, there would be no need for an election.
Voters who support the candidate they have determined to be the subjective “lesser of two evils” do not criticize third-party voters because they are wasting their vote, they criticize them because they are wasting a vote that could go to their choice candidate.
But what if it doesn’t? If you force an undecided voter to choose between the two major-party candidates, and they choose your opponent, do you still discourage their third-party vote?
If all of the undecided voters in the nation transferred their vote to your opponent, would you recant your criticisms to keep your candidate safe? If yes, can you really argue that a third-party vote is a waste, or is it only a waste when it detracts from your choice candidate’s chance of winning?
And would one also argue, that if a vote for a third-party candidate is considered a waste because the candidate will not win, is casting a vote for the traditional candidate who ultimately loses also a wasted vote? Second place is just the first loser, and by the logic you are not supposed to vote for the loser.
Other critics say voters can cast votes for third-party candidates, but they forfeit their right to complain when the popular candidate they did not vote for becomes president. But what if the candidate they hated, but voted for to avoid voting third party wins? Can they then complain, or are they left to suffer in silence because they made the decision to hand the win to a candidate they hated?
The third-party voter is often seen as defiant, a civilly disobedient citizen “throwing away” his or her vote in protest. This is a harsh generalization rooted in neither logic nor fact.
More than 500 days of election season have left many voters with significant doubts in both candidates, so why should they be forced to settle?
Surely there is someone else in the roughly 136 million Americans aged 35-74 more “fit” to lead. And if a voter feels there is, this is who deserves their vote.
To support a candidate means you have formed your rightful opinion attached to your right to vote. You cannot then attempt to control the rightful opinion attached to another citizen’s vote.
Not a single citizen in this nation reserves the right to tell another citizen whom they can or cannot vote for.
The decision to vote third party is less a move of defiance and more a move of desperation. Desperation coming as a result of America’s two-party system failing, on both sides, to produce a candidate voters feel confident enough to support as the person who will represent this nation.
It is not your civic duty to vote for “the lesser of two evils.” It is not your civic duty to vote for the winner.
It is your civic duty to vote and vote responsibly. This means it is your civic duty to vote for the candidate whom you deem most qualified, not the least unqualified, to lead this great nation — democratic, republican or third party.
Encouraging a voter to do anything else is a threat to democracy.