Brian Katzung On Wasted Votes


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Which Votes Are Wasted?

Many people say that you are wasting your vote unless you vote for a Democrat or a Republican, on the grounds that no other candidate can win. 

This view is both near-sighted and incorrect, unless the Democratic or Republican candidate actually most closely resembles your views. The only way you can actually waste your vote is to vote for a candidate other than the one whose views mostly closely match yours. 

Here are some of the reasons why it is important to vote for the candidate who most closely resembles your views, whether or not that candidate can win in the current election:

  • This is not the last election; there will be more in the future (unless we lose even more of our rights). Even if you cannot achieve what you want in the current election, it makes more sense to work progressively toward your goal over several elections than to vote for something you don't want and get it (what you don't want) immediately. You don't even get a guarantee that your second choice candidate will beat the other leading candidate.
  • Ballot access is controlled (and actively manipulated) by the Democrats and Republicans to make it difficult for other parties to achieve ballot status. By supporting an alternative party, you help reduce the amount of effort required to get onto the ballot in the next election. This allows the party to concentrate on issues and out-reach instead of trying to just stay afloat in the stream of sewage emitted from the Republicratic Political Machine. (I should point out here that a lot of perfectly nice Democrats and Republicans have no idea how their political parties actually operate as they have never tried to run as an alternative candidate.)
  • Increasing support for alternative parties will also tend to get them more media coverage and name recognition, further advancing their cause.
  • By supporting the candidate or party that best represents your views, you may encourage others who are like-minded, but have fallen into the ``wasted vote'' trap, to vote their conscience. You may find that a lot more people support your views than you thought.
  • If what you want is change, then ``siphoning votes'' is not necessarily a bad thing, as the primary-candidate supporters would have you believe. Again, you have to think beyond the immediate election and consider the future, the big picture. If an increasingly large population is siphoning votes from either a particular party or the incumbent in each successive election, the party or parties adversely affected by it are going to have to make a choice between changing to satisfy those voters or continuing to suffer the loss of votes. If those votes represent an increasing, on-going trend, it will either succeed in driving change in a primary party, or they will become sufficient to win!
  • A vote for the ``lesser of two evils'' is indistinguishable from a vote for a first choice. There is no way to indicate on the ballot why you chose the candidate you did--no definite message gets conveyed. On the other hand, a vote for a candidate who probably can't win sends a clear message: ``I want change so badly that I'll vote for someone I don't expect to win.''
Deciding how you're going to vote is as important as planning your finances. If you ``spend your vote'' in the present without considering the future, you will probably end up paying for it for years to come.
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Updated 15 September 1998