If you're in a blue or red state, don't waste your vote on the two-party system
There aren't two 2020 presidential candidates. There are many and some of those candidates might align with your views a lot more than Joe Biden and Donald Trump do. Maybe you are very passionate about individual rights and liberties: Jo Jorgensen of the Libertarian Party is on the ballot nationwide.1 Or perhaps you're a socialist and would like vote for someone who supports medicare for all and the Green New Deal; Howie Hawkins, nominee of the Green Party, is on the ballot in most states and can be written in on the others.2 While those are the two most prominent, other candidates include Kanye West, Gloria Riva, Rocky De La Fuente, Don Blankenship, and Brock Pierce, among many others. I've spoken to many people who, despite agreeing with one of these candidates a lot more than they agree with the Democrat or Republican, have decided they won't for them. Typically, this is because of the fear of the spoiler effect. In short, these voters see one of the two-party options, either Biden or Trump, as worse than the other, and they want to support the one they think is better as it is the best way to avoid having the worse one in office. At best, they see voting for a third-party candidate with a slim chance of winning as wasting their vote. At worst, they see it as actively indirectly supporting the opposing candidate. I'm not here to convince anyone and everyone that they should vote for who they think is best, regardless of what I personally believe. However, I'd suggest that voting for a blue or red candidate in a state that heavily leans one way or the other is more of a waster vote than a third party vote. Take a state like California; They've voted for the Democrat in presidential elections since 1992. Any and every poll predicts that their electors will safely go to Biden in 2020. Because the state, like 47 others, is a winner take all state, changes in the popular vote or inconsequential. Your vote, either red or blue, is a drop in an enormous ocean that doesn't matter. However, while their chances of winning are slim, supporting third party candidates that you like has positive consequences. First of all, your vote could help your favorite third party hit a crucial five percent in the popular vote. If they receive five percent, they are eligible for the FEC's partial public funding granted to minor parties.3 Funding can go a long way to helping these third parties go toe-to-toe with the billion-dollar Republicat donors. Secondly, poll numbers are used to dictate who gets a platform at presidential debates. If there is more support for the candidate you think is best, they have a greater chance of being able to nationally broadcast their ideas on debate night. Also, as the candidate becomes more popular and relevant to national discourse, the higher the chance they get some press coverage Finally, the message the third party vote sends could be influential in how major parties and individuals conduct themselves. For example, let's say that after Sanders lost the primary and Clinton lost the general in 2016, a progressive 3rd party candidate won a lot of votes. This could signal to the Democrats that their voter base wants someone more to the left than their current crop and could motivate them to pick a better candidate. Also, voting third party legitimizes them in the eyes of other voters, encouraging them to also vote their conscience. Whether you should follow this advice if you're in a swing state is a much larger discussion on our two-party system. However, if you live in a solid blue or red state and you are worried about wasting your vote, consider voting third party.
1) https://jo20.com/ 2) https://howiehawkins.us/ 3) https://www.fec.gov/introduction-campaign-finance/understanding-ways-support-federal-candidates/presidential-elections/public-funding-presidential-elections/
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