Waste Your Vote

During the Presidential debates, Trump and Hillary both strove to prove how terrible the other candidate was. Unsurprisingly, they both succeeded. Each showed that the other candidate was not only unfit for office, but a detestable human being. It’s not surprising that both Trump and Clinton are breaking campaign records when it comes to unfavorability ratings. But voters who search for other, less abhorrent options, are reprimanded for “wasting their vote.”

Advocates for the “wasting your vote” concept use shallow election mathematics to try to justify enforcing their own political beliefs. They might dismiss candidates as unable to win the election and tell you to vote for a candidate that actually has a chance at winning. But this argument relies on your vote having a real and noticeable impact on the election. If your vote isn’t relevant in a statistical sense– which turns out to be the case when you look at facts–then the idea that your vote matters because it helps decide the election turns out to be flawed. The “Paradox of Voting” states that the physical cost of actually voting almost always outweigh the benefits. From this purely pragmatic standpoint, voting is illogical.

This applies even in state and local elections, where your vote has minimal impact. Anecdotal evidence aside, it’s extremely unlikely you will ever affect an election. But if you still think your vote has importance because of the change it causes in elections then you shouldn’t vote for a major party. In order to maximize your vote’s effect on the election, you should vote for a third party instead. Because they have less support, your individual vote is a larger part of the whole. Furthermore, third parties stand to gain funding and support that the major parties already have. Not only is it wrong that you are “wasting your vote,” but according to this common sense logic voters should actually vote third party.

It’s ridiculous that this argument has to be addressed at all. Make no mistake, ridiculing voters for going third party is limiting the democratic process. Mindlessly advocating for the lesser of two evils is still evil. This election, set between the two ruins of hyper nationalism and the corrupt establishment did not happen because of an unlucky role of the political dice. It is the logical conclusion of a polarized two party system where voting for a rational candidate is somehow seen as letting the other candidate win. Rationalization, as the saying goes, is a destructive slope. We have entered such an intense political realm that voters are justifying Trump and Clinton – while rejecting sane alternatives. In such a reality, the only way to “waste your vote” is to vote for someone you don’t agree with.

2 thoughts on “Waste Your Vote”

  1. Why are you trying to argue against proven math? The two party system is caused by the first past the post voting system not peoples individual decisions. All third parties do is drain votes from the party their voters would otherwise support. This is counter intuitive as it makes it easier for the part you hate most to win.

    1. Did you read the article?

      “Advocates for the “wasting your vote” concept use shallow election mathematics to try to justify enforcing their own political beliefs…”

      On an individual basis the point of voting is to represent yourself with the best candidate – not vote for the candidate with the highest chance to win. Individual votes have negligible impact.

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