Today we're hearing from Alex Merced, Libertarian Candidate for Senate in the state of New York. I really appreciated his comments as someone who has been torn about voting third party in the presidential race. You can learn more about Alex by visiting his website. - beth
People often say a third party vote is a wasted vote. I reject this notion as people should vote for the candidate that best reflects their values, or the result is their values will be ignored. Although, below I list some very practical reasons to vote third party. For the record, I am in this to win and we are planning to be bold in taking the Libertarian message to New York.
1. Signaling - The major parties only care about winning and getting enough people to vote one way to win. If they lose because a lot of people choose to vote third party rest assured both parties will try to appeal to that lost vote and reflect the cause of those third party voters. Ralph Nader was looked at as a spoiler (although there is data to support otherwise, because every Nader vote was not a potential democrat vote) but the result was the Democrats became more progressive going forward to appeal to those Nader voters, otherwise the Democrats would probably be much more centrist today and have nominated Hillary and lost in 2008 without the young motivated progressive turnout that helped them carry 2008.
2. To win - The only way a third party candidate can win is if you support them, in polls and at the ballot box. Also the vote count matters a great deal as many of the barriers to third parties in most states are removed if a third party can get enough votes, so strong vote counts help chip away at those barriers. (Right now third parties like Libertarians and Greens spend hundreds of thousands of dollars just to get on the ballot and are left with little resources for the general election because of these barriers)
3. So you matter - if you just always give your vote to the lesser evil then there is no reason for any party to be anything but a little less evil than the other guy. This kind of dynamic is poison to change and reform. Don't let them take your vote for granted.
At the end of the day the only way to change the culture of politics is to change the culture of voting as politics is just a reflection of our behavior at the ballot box.
Now in 2016, the conditions are unique and third parties truly have an opportunity to win and there are some slightly possible scenarios where Gary Johnson can become president. Change doesn't come from voting the same way every election, Vote different, make history.