Let’s be honest. The 2016 presidential election has been a cross between a circus and a train wreck for months. Hearing yet another outrageous statement by Donald Trump is almost a daily occurrence. The various controversies surrounding Hillary Clinton come up almost as often. The media cheerfully regurgitates all of this day after day, keeping the general public stirred up and apprehensive about who will become America’s next president.
Clinton and Trump are the major party candidates, but despite what the media and others would have Americans believe, they are far from the only options. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, will also be on the ballot. Forty-three out of fifty states allow write-in votes. It may take some research to find out who these write-in candidates are, but if you don’t like the three options on the ballot, it might be worth the effort.
I know a lot of you are thinking that writing in a candidate’s name is throwing away your vote or is a non-vote. We’ve all heard it from the candidates, friends, family, and so on. But here’s the thing.
It isn’t true.
If you vote, regardless of who you vote for, you haven’t thrown away your vote. If you vote, your vote counts. It may not be a vote for one of the major political parties, but it is still a vote. Anyone who claims it is a non-vote is wrong.
That brings me to another popular set of lies. So often during election years, and this year in particular, I hear people say, “A vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for (whatever major party candidate the speaker doesn’t like).” Another common one is, “I don’t really like Candidate A, but I’m voting against Candidate B.”
Both of these statements miss the truth about the process of voting. When you cast your ballot, you pick a candidate. It doesn’t matter how popular or well-known that candidate is (or isn’t). You are still voting for that candidate.
Did you catch that? When you vote, you are voting FOR someone. No matter how much you want another candidate to lose, you can’t actually vote against him/her because you actually voting for someone else. Any vote you cast is for one particular candidate. Your vote only counts for that person and no one else. In other words, regardless of who you vote for, it is a vote for that candidate.
So many Americans have complained about being stuck with a two-party political system, yet they continue to believe and spread the misinformation that keeps a two-party system in place. If you truly want more options, they are out there. You don’t have to be constrained by the opinions of others. If you don’t like the Republican or Democratic candidates for a given office, vote for a third party or independent candidate.
No one controls your vote but you. The most responsible thing you can do as a voter is to vote for the candidate you believe is the best person for the job. Don’t let others shame or guilt you into voting for anyone else. Your vote is yours to give to the candidate of your choice, and that vote will count for the person you give it to. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.