Thursday, September 22, 2016

How to vote "None of the Above" 
Early voting will begin soon in many states. This year beginning of the voting season poses a problem for many voters who fall into the “None of the Above” category. If you’re like me, you can’t vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, but you still want to do your civic duty and cast a ballot in the election. There are several ballot options and one final chance to prevent a Clinton or Trump presidency.

Not voting at all is not a pleasant option for a patriotic American. When you don’t vote at all, you don’t count. You aren’t a part of the mandate that either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton might receive, but you don’t figure into the opposition either. The absence of your vote just means that no one knows where you stood. You are assumed to be one of the roughly half of eligible American voters who sit out every election and assumed to be apathetic.

There is another reason to vote. The presidential election isn’t the only one on the ballot. Even if you can’t stand either presidential candidate, there are good candidates down the ticket in state and local elections. Many of them deserve your vote.

Your vote counts for more in state and local elections than in a presidential election. A presidential election has never been decided by one vote. Smaller elections have.

In state and local elections, the pool of eligible voters is smaller so your vote is more valuable. In a presidential election, you are one out of the millions in your state, which is only one of 50. In a local election, your vote might be one out of a hundred. Even if you completely skip the presidential race, educate yourself on state and local candidates and then go vote.

If you absolutely don’t want to cast a ballot for Trump or Clinton, but still want to vote in the presidential election, there are several options. Among the options is a strategy for the last ditch effort to prevent either Lying Donald or Crooked Hillary from becoming president.

Contrary to popular belief, the presidential election is not a binary choice. There are other parties and the race only becomes a binary race if we refuse to consider the other options. If ever other options should be considered, it is this year.

The most well-known of the other options is Gary Johnson who, together with Bill Weld, forms the Libertarian ticket. Both men are former Republican governors with real world legislative experience. The Libertarians normally poll at less than one percent, but this year Johnson is flirting with the 15 percent threshold needed for inclusion in the presidential debates. The Libertarians combine a platform of economic freedom and with social liberalism and isolationist foreign policy.  

A second option is Green Party candidate Jill Stein and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka. The Greens have been described as “watermelons” because they are green on the outside and red on the inside. The Green Party tends toward socialism and is merely a blip in the polls.

For conservatives, there is the Conservative Party and its nominee Darrell Castle. Castle is probably the most unknown of the major third party candidates, not having registered in a single poll that I have seen. The Conservative Party platform is conservative with a bent toward conspiracy theories. They list opposition to Agenda 21 as a “key issue.”

There is also a fourth option. Independent conservative Evan McMullin was a late entry to the race. McMullin announced his candidacy in August after an alternative to Trump failed to emerge at the Republican National Convention. McMullin is a congressional staffer and former CIA agent. McMullin is conservative who seeks to represent the free trade, small government, foreign policy hawks of the GOP who are disillusioned with Trump as well as anyone who wants an honest candidate.

The third party candidates serve two purposes. They are both potential spoilers and protest votes.

If you’re like me and don’t want either Trump or Hillary to win because you view them both as equally unfit for office, then a third party candidate is a way to vote against them both. If enough voters vote against both major party candidates this way, then a third party candidate might win a state’s electoral votes and impact the results of the election. Even without winning a whole state, the mere presence of third party candidates impacts the race as shown by a number of polls that show a diminished lead for Hillary when third party candidates are included.

How would one of these third party candidates win? It’s obvious that none of them could hope to garner the 270 electoral votes required to win outright in the Electoral College. The answer lies within the Constitution. The 12th Amendment specifies that if no candidate receives a majority of electoral votes, the election then goes to the House of Representatives. Each state’s House delegation would get one vote and the top three electoral vote recipients would be eligible.

The rub comes in when the House of Representatives decides on the winner. How would split House delegations vote? Would they simply elect the unpopular candidate with the (R) after his name? Would they elect the candidate with the most electoral votes, regardless of party? Would they acknowledge that the voters have rejected both unpopular main party candidates and elect a third party candidate?

There are those who say that a third party vote is a wasted vote. They say that a vote for a third party is a vote for whichever candidate they don’t happen to support. In the past, I have agreed with them and said the same things. 2016 is a year with its own rules, however.

This year, my view is that wasting your vote is using it to vote for a candidate that you don’t like, who says things that you don’t agree with and who you don’t trust to lead the country. With two equally deplorable alternatives to choose from, I plan to use my vote to vote against them both.

If either Trump or Clinton ends up winning, and the odds are that one of them almost certainly will, then at least I can point to the larger than normal percentage of third party votes and say that I rejected them both. The parties will know that many, many voters looked at their flawed, dishonest candidates and refused to give their consent to be governed by them. Maybe the parties will learn from this election. Maybe they won’t.

My advice is to pick the third party candidate with the best chance to deny your state’s electoral votes to both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. That may require voting across ideological lines for strategic reasons. If you live in Oregon, Jill Stein might be the strongest choice. Gary Johnson should be strong in the “Live Free or Die” state of New Hampshire. Evan McMullin may do well in his home state of Utah, a red state where Donald Trump is not popular. Check your state polling at Real Clear Politics to find out how the candidates stack up.

In the end, if no third party candidate is close to winning, you can vote your conscience. If the parties have cast aside their principles to nominate two corrupt progressives, voters are not required to cast aside their principles to affirm those poor choices.

For what does it profit a party to win an election, but to lose its soul?

Originally published on The Resurgent

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