In this election cycle, I have been asked one question more than any other due to many people being disillusioned by the two major party candidates. Is voting for a third party candidate throwing my vote away? I have read numerous articles that say that it is. Common arguments are “they can’t win,” and “a vote for a third party candidate is a vote for Clinton/Trump.” If there is one issue that both sides of the aisle agree on, it is a combined effort to limit third parties’ viability and making people believe third party votes are wasteful. This article is not trying to tell you how to vote, but instead, is answering the question is a third party vote thrown away. Let me give you three reasons why a third party vote is absolutely not a wasted vote.
First, your conscience, integrity, beliefs, and personal political platform matter when you vote. In my very first article on “voting Christian,” I spoke to the importance of developing your own political beliefs and their importance in voting. Check it out. Here I want to speak to your conscience and integrity in voting. Southern Baptists, to which I belong, have historically and presently emphasize each individual’s soul competency and the priesthood of all believers, teaching that your personal relationship with the Lord is essential in guiding your daily decisions. Southern Baptists believe “God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it.” This means if the Bible does not directly speak to a decision, you make that decision led by God alone.
Yes, the Bible does offer many passages and teachings that can speak on how a Christian should vote and certain platforms we should hold, but the Bible is not Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Constitution, Reform, Green, or any other political party, even Whig. This means your vote should be led by your personal relationship with God and how He leads you to vote.
Voting against your God led conscience is a compromise of, not only your integrity, but your Christianity.
The lesson here is pray, spend time in God’s word, spend time with God, and pray some more in order to learn how God is leading you to vote. Then, vote in obedience to your God led conscience. Voting how the Spirit leads you is never, ever wasted, even if that candidate only receives a single vote. Following God’s lead in your life is more important than whoever will win in November, whether it is the candidate you vote for or not. This lesson applies to more than a third party vote.
Second, third party votes even in defeat will help them become viable in the future. Third parties do not have to win the Oval Office this year for your vote to matter. Ballot access and funding is an issue for third parties. Votes from previous elections help with both issues. First, certain states, such as Maryland, Missouri, among others, look at votes in the previous election for ballot access for the next election without going through a petition process. Voting third party will make it easier for that candidate and/or political party to be on the ballot next election. This aides in viability. Without help, an independent candidate for President needs an estimated 880,000 signatures to be on all 50 ballots and some states have some odd requirements for signatures, such as a signer cannot be registered with a qualifying party (Arizona) or voted in a primary (Nebraska). These requirements are lessened by receiving votes. Source article
Also, in order to receive federal funding for a presidential campaign, a candidate/party must get 5% of the popular vote. This means if a third party candidate can go over that 5% number, their party can apply and receive federal funding for the 2020 campaign. Money matters when running a campaign and receiving it will help a third party be more viable in 2020 even their candidate does not win this year. This funding can help with meeting ballot access requirements, exposure to voters, and getting their platforms to the people.
With money and exposure on all 50 ballots in 2020, it would not be an un-jump-able hurdle for a third party candidate to poll at 15% to be on the debate stage with the two major party candidates. Gary Johnson got close this year without federal funds and an intense struggle to get on all 50 ballots.
Voting third party this year may not lead to victory, but it could lead to viability in the future.
Lastly, a protest vote for a third party candidate is a powerful voice. America is a nation where protest can lead to change. Would women have received the right to vote when they did without the protests of Susan B. Anthony and others? Would blacks have received civil rights in the 60’s without the protests of Claudette Colvin, Rosa Parks,Martin Luther King Jr., and others? Whether or not you agree with the protest led by Colin Kaepernick and others kneeling during the National Anthem, you must see that their protest has led to a national discussion that just might lead to change. Protests can be powerful. Our nation moves when people come together for a cause.
Coming together to vote third party may not lead to victory in this election, but it could lead to a national discussion and change in the future. Protests, again, are a powerful way to share a message. In Georgia, a baptist college, Truett McConnell University, is leading a protest, on campus and in court, against obamacare. It has and is giving their president Emir Caner an incredible platform to speak to the sanctity of life.
A protest vote is not a wasted vote. It is a chance to send a message.
This November do not compromise your integrity and vote how the Spirit leads you, and know, if that direction is for a third party candidate, it is not wasted.
Truly, Jesse Colbert