With a lot fewer votes than it would take to actually get the third-party candidate elected in the US, it will send a message that this party deserves federal funds like the two major parties get. (Five percent of the vote is required to get government matching money.) Sounds like a good message to me -- every political party starts small. The Republicans were a third party in the 1850s; in 1860 their candidate Abraham Lincoln was elected.

Do you really believe that any vote makes a difference? What percentage of the total pool of voters are you? How naive to think that you could make any difference to how this country is run!

You are, to put it mildly, an idealistic fool.

Of course, voting for a 3rd party candidate does send one very important message. It sends the message that there are people interested in having people from that party in power. Because this fact is often ignored, it is very important that as many of us as possible keep sending this message over and over and over again.

One of the wonderful things about a two party system is that it often doesn't make any difference who wins. They're both stupid jerks who you wouldn't want as your boss, never mind as the leader of the free world. This allows you to ignore the whole republican/democrat thing and let your imagination run free. If you could have anyone as president, who would it be? Now vote for them.

Of course, this sort of voting is voting to change the system, to expand the sort of choices that future generations may someday have, rather than voting to stop the bad guy from winning this time around. Is either candidate really that that bad? Or, to be more exact, that much better? Leave this election to the fools who really care about party lines. We'll win over someday...

It is my belief that if every person who is fed up with the current one party with two heads system actually went out and voted for any of the other available (read "third party") candidates, the winner would almost certainly turn out to be one of the "third party" candidates.

I think the main reason so low a percentage of eligible voters actually get out and does so is apathy, the notion that their vote doesn't count. This apathy stems from having had an endless stream of soundbite producing talking heads to vote for, all hype and no substance. Maybe the parties would start nominating real people with real morals and the ability to tell the truth and stand up for what they really believe in instead of what the party's steering committee told them to say they believed in if we, the voters, started rejecting the dipshits they put in front of us every two years. I think low voter turnout is in fact a symptom of this rejection, but the parties don't see it this way, and in fact, low voter turnout actually helps them.

Even worse than apathy is the concept of wasting ones vote. What utter bullshit. To vote for one of the mainstream candidates in some sort of "lesser of the two evils" mindset is nothing more than an admission of ones sheephood. I remember back to some of the post-balloting exit polls during the '92 election when Ross Perot ran, and the surprising thing to me was the sheer number of people who said they would've voted for Perot if they didn't think they'd be "wasting their vote". If they'd all have voted for him like their intellects told them to do instead of that sorry excuse for a human that we currently call our President or the other asshole, the last eight years would've certainly been different for America. If you don't like what either of the idiots running for President have to say, Don't Vote For Them!

So, I don't really believe that voting third party sends a message to the politicians, because they and their spin doctors aren't really listening to the American People anyway, but they will listen when a thrid party candidate beats them and they have to pack their stuff and move home.

See also Sending a message.

To put some figures behind cardinal's writeup above, consider that President Clinton got re-elected with less than 50% of the eligible voters bothering to turn up to vote.

If the other 50% would each turn up and vote for who they thought would best represent them, it's not inconceivable that a third party candidate (someone other than the Democrat or Republican frontboys) might get elected as President.

Do you want to see third party voting through my eyes? No? Then skip this.

Come election time, if you are a U.S. citizen, your choices can be divided into three bins: you can 1)vote for a republocrat, 2) vote for a third party, or 3)vote for noone.

If you think that one of the "major party" candidates is the best sack of water for president, then your choice is easy. If you believe that one is evil incarnate, and the other is not, you might also want to vote for the electoral college candidate who has indicated he would vote for the lesser of the two evils. If neither of these is the case, which for me it usually is, then you must decide what to do.

If you choose option 1, you are supporting a person you believe will not be the best president. However, what if 50% of voters chose option 3? That means that the president could be elected, possibly with less support than Milosevic got in the recent elections in Yugoslavia! And, since both of the major parties can count on certain blocks, that means that whatever special interest you hate gets a disproportionate voice in electing your leader.

Let us now look at option 2. If your vote truly is wasted, option 2 becomes option 3. But what if many people voted #2? What if 20% of americans spread their votes between the third parties? Would Nader have been forcibly denied entrance to the presidential debates? What if it were 40%? The problem is, a revolution can only come when many individuals come together. Let me give one example.(you can skip it if you're bored)

I went to high school in a conservative part of the country that has cold, snowy winters. One year, my school decided that students could not wear shorts that left more than two inches showing above the kneecaps. However, the policy said nothing about skirts(why are conservative policies so often drafted by dirty old men?). Students, and a few parents, complained, but to no avail. Then, on the day of the first major snow of the year, about 10% of the boys came to school in short skirts, in protest of the rule. Now, there was a long-standing rule against cross-dressing, but with about 5% of the student body participating, the administration caved in. We're talking about maybe 80 people. That's it. But we were 80 people, and we made a difference. So, if you are disgusted with G.W. Gush and Al Bore, vote for a third party candidate. Or become a part of the evil machine.

What proud member of a democracy gives a damn about "sending a message"?

As a citizen of a democracy, it is my duty to exercise my right to vote, since a right left unused is a right soon rescinded. Sure, I'm unhappy with the system. Sure, my vote alone will not change it. But it makes no difference if the candidate I vote for probably won't win. Anybody who frets about this is a scared sheep afraid of not going along with the crowd, and a source of disgust to me.

God forbid you defend your beliefs with your vote. Your vote - one person's vote - changes nothing. It means nothing. 2,000,000 votes DO mean something. When the people come together and put aside their differences to make a change, it ALWAYS happens, either peacefully or by force. (Fortunately, the US usually takes the former route.)

You have a duty to preserve your natural right to choose your own destiny and to play your role in the society you've chosen to live in. Cowards aren't welcome in a democracy.

Disclaimer: Don't misconstrue this as a criticism of Republican or Democrat party-liners. If you honestly believe that Gore or Bush is the best person to lead your country, you are obligated to vote for him, just the same as I am obligated to vote for mine.

Second disclaimer: Democracy is not defined here as "American government"; it refers to the system of government where the people represent themselves, or elect representatives, to present their interests before a body charged with the administration and enforcement of laws designed to promote the general welfare.

Third party votes have frequently changed politics. A few third party candidates have been elected to Congress, but never has a third party candidate been elected President. What usually happens is the two major parties absorb the third party's platform.

During the 1800's, farmers were having many problems. They would borrow money to build a farm, but then they would have problems repaying the debt. The supply of hard currency was scarce, and farmers had trouble getting a hold of gold and silver to pay back their loans. This resulted in the formation of many political groups, namely the Grange and the Greenback Labor party. Candidates ran on the Greenback Labor party ticket. Several Congressmen were elected. The Republican and Democrat parties noticed the support that this upstart group had gained, so they fought for the votes by including the Greenback Labor party's wants into their own platforms and campaigned on them. This sucked the support out of the Greenback Labor party.

The final result was the third party's needs were met. Farmers voted for a third party and things were changed in their favor.

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