Why I am Voting Third-Party for President in 2016

Vote for me, vote for me
If I am elected, this is how it will be.

I'll work for global peace
And the sweet release
Of the love and human kindness in us all.

I would give all I've got
You just give me a shot
Somehow, I know that I can win the fall.

Chicago, "Vote For Me" (Robert Lamm, 1977)

by Raymond Keiser, senior editor, The Pharos Project for Patriotic Conservatism

Let me start off by unequivocally stating, I am a die-hard constitutional conservative.  I care very much about this country, and the direction it is headed.  Eight years of Obama have been destructive on the economic, military, and moral fabric of our nation.

Hillary Clinton's criminal actions clearly disqualify her from office.  She has repeatedly sold out our country's security and sovereignty, all for the sake of power and money.  She has shown a blatant disregard for the Constitution, the rule of law, and the American people. We cannot afford to give her four more years to finish what Obama has started.

On the other hand, I'm not particularly fond of Donald Trump; I think he's pompous and boorish. But while he might be unpleasant, those reasons don't disqualify him. I don't like him, but I could almost manage to hold my nose and vote for him.

But I have decided to vote third-party.

Yes, you read that line correctly: I plan to vote third-party.  Before I get bombarded with hateful comments about "handing the election to [Clinton or Trump]", let me explain my logic.

Firstly, I live in Mississippi, which is a solidly red Republican state. For my state, a Trump win is a shoo-in.  The last time Mississippi voted for a Democrat president was 1976, when southerner Jimmy Carter won by less than 2%; in the 21st century, Mississippi has gone Republican in every election by double-digits. I say again with certainty: Trump will win Mississippi.

Second, elections in the United States are not decided by popular majority.  They are decided by the electoral college, which is awarded based on the electors of each state.

With those two facts in mind, it's easy to see that on election day, Trump will have the 6 electors of Mississippi, no matter how I vote – or even if I vote.  This is a foregone conclusion.

So what's a conservative to do?

As I said, my vote for Trump means little.

On the other hand, many, many Americans -- on both sides of the aisle -- have expressed a desire for a solid third- (or fourth, or fifth) party to break the Republican/Democrat hegemony that has defined American politics for over a century.

We do have alternative parties, but none of them have managed to gain enough traction to break the gridlock, and many voters don't even know they exist.  I agree with many planks of the Libertarian Party platform, but I can't stomach their candidates in this election.  For a conservative, two tickets rise to the top: the Constitution Party (Castle/Bradley) or Independent (McMullin/Johnson).  Both tickets feature honorable candidates with constitutional and moral platforms, and a conservative should have no qualms about voting for either. In my case, I am voting for Darrell Castle (McMullin isn't on the ballot, and Mississippi doesn't allow write-in votes).

What will it matter?  They won't win!

Please understand that I am under no illusions that a third-party candidate will win this election, nor do I think that my opinion will sway enough votes to change the outcome. Next January, either Clinton or Trump will be inaugurated (after what I have no doubt will be highly contested election results), and my vote won't directly impact this.  As I established earlier, this is because of where I live.

But third-parties are not on the ballot in all states.  For example, in Mississippi, the Constitution Party is on the ballot, but the Independent (McMullin) ticket is not.  In many cases, you can vote for them as a write-in.

Write-in ballots are often given a bad rap.  Many people see them as throw-away votes. However, in most states, in order for a party to be granted full ballot recognition in one election, they must garner a small percentage of the vote (often 1%) in the previous election. In other words: a write-in party in 2016 could easily be a full ballot ticket in 2020. Even for those third-parties that are on the ballot this year, they must maintain a minimum number of votes to remain on the ballot next time.

The upshot of all that is that while my third-party vote may not sway the result of this year's election, it could help make sure that that party is available next time.

So what do I do?

If my reasoning has not persuaded you, then please, by all means, go vote your conscience.  Or don't vote at all.  It's a free country.  Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

However, if my reasoning seems logical to you, please consider the following:

  • My logic is based on the fact that I live in a state that is not "in play" this year.  If you live in a so-called "swing" state (FL, OH, PA, etc) or a state that is "undecided" (IA, TX, AZ, etc), then please ignore what I've said and vote your conscience -- unless you plan to vote for Hillary, in which case please stay home (kidding!).
  • If you're considering voting third-party, please research the available options.  Also, check your state elections website or the tools listed below, and determine which candidates are on your local ballot.
  • If your preferred candidate isn't on the ballot, and you're considering a write-in vote, do more research, to determine what the rules are on write-in candidates in your state.  Not all states allow write-in candidates, and most of those that do will only accept "pre-filed" candidate tickets.  Also note that some states have "sore loser" laws, which prevent write-in votes for candidates who failed to get their party's nomination (e.g. Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders).

Thank you for your time, and God Bless America!
R W Keiser