Don’t Waste Your Vote

18Oct10

Election time is rapidly approaching again and I occasionally hear an idea that makes me cringe.  It’s the idea that you have to vote for the Democrat or the Republican in elections, otherwise you are wasting your vote.  I hate that concept.  It makes me want to scream every time.  It’s a little like saying you have to have either Brussels sprouts or asparagus with dinner every night.  Presented with that, many will choose one because they hate the other.  But that is an unrealistic choice.  You could have carrots, or broccoli, or a potato.  There are a plethora of options, not just two that many people dislike.  And if you have 12 people all trying to pick one side dish there will very likely be at least some of the group that are disappointed.  Would you really say to yourself “I’d really like to have broccoli, but since no one else will want it, I might as well vote for asparagus because I really want to make sure Brussels sprouts doesn’t win.”  That is what we say every time we limit ourselves to the two biggest political parties.  Yes, sometimes those are the only choices.  But more often than not there are other choices.  You can vote for the Independence Party.  Or the Green Party.  Or the Libertarian Party.  In the last presidential election there were a total of 23 parties that were listed on ballots in various states.  Voting for a particular candidate is seen as exactly that: voting FOR them, not voting against ONE of the other guys.  When so many people automatically limit their choices to only the two candidates who “have a shot at winning” we give those candidates a false sense of support.  Consider: if the Green Party had gotten 15% of the vote in the last election, don’t you think both the Democrats and Republicans would be looking at why and at what they could adopt to be more attractive?

I used to say that the only wasted vote is the one not cast.  I don’t know that I completely agree with that anymore.  If no candidate is appealing in any way, the best way to show that is to not vote for any of them, although to make it obvious it might be necessary to cast a blank ballot (unless you live in Nevada where every election is required to have the choice “None of these”).  I heard someone say recently that they were going to vote for Candidate A in November even though they didn’t really like them, because they want to make sure Candidate B doesn’t win even though they would most like to see Candidate C win.  To me THAT is truly a wasted vote–one not used to express true preferences.

Remember to vote November 2.  And cast your vote for the candidates you feel you can truly support, not just who you think can win.

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