Op−Ed | Why I’m voting third party
Published: Monday, November 5, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 06:11
As is true for the majority of Tufts undergraduates, this is my first Presidential Election. I was in fourth grade when President Bush and former Vice President Gore were battling for weeks over the results of a few hundred votes in Florida that would determine the outcome of the election.
I watched with curiosity, asking my parents why we didn’t have a president yet. They told me it was because this country has a silly way of running elections resulting in an even sillier government. I figured that they’re pretty biased, as they’re originally from the Soviet Union. I was sure elections weren’t that bad: How could an entire country be this inefficient for so long and manage to hold strong, right? But I now know that there is some truth in their skepticism.
I have been following President Obama and former Governor Romney for the past year trying to decide to whom I will give my first Presidential vote. I watched all three debates with an open mind and critical eye. I read their platforms, listened to speeches, and realized that in truth, both candidates I was being offered were the overly−partisan result of a broken primary system amended in no way by an equally flawed two−party electoral college. I desperately looked around for some sign that either of the two were moderate enough for me to entrust them with my vote, and yet, nothing. While both candidates do have moderate aspects in their platforms, each has deal−breaking policies on which a frighteningly large segment of their campaign is based.
I was distraught. I had been looking forward to my first Presidential election so badly I hadn’t thought about what would happen if I didn’t want to give either candidate my vote. While I could certainly vote for either with some semblance of rationality behind it, my vote means more to me than a throwaway in exchange for an “I Voted!” sticker. Instead of voting for President Obama or Governor Romney, I am going to vote for a better electoral future.
The Federal Election Commission (FEC), a bipartisan group consisting of three Democrats and three Republicans, has decided that in order for a third party to be granted money from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, a form of public funding for elections, the party must get five percent of the popular vote in the previous election. Many of the state−determined ballot access laws have similar provisions, whereby a third party can be spared the long and expensive ballot access process if that party received a certain percentage of the popular vote the prior election. If a candidate were to get more than five percent of the popular vote in a Presidential election, that would provide the resources necessary to become a major political player with the hopeful eventual goal of being invited to participate in the main presidential debates as opposed to the feebly advertised third−party debates. Each vote brings us one step closer to breaking the two party gridlock that has wreaked havoc over our electoral system for decades.
To those of you who say that I am wasting my vote, I respectfully disagree. While you are correct, my chosen candidate will undoubtedly lose, I am not voting for an individual, but for an idea. If my vote is matched with enough people equally tired with the poor options we’re given, we can change the American political system forever. I am voting for the idea that one day the American people will be treated as intelligent beings capable of choosing between more than just red or blue or the lesser of two evils and instead will be offered a slate of candidates from which they can choose who they feel will represent them in their entirety to the country and the world over. I have been waiting for this election for more than half of my life and while I never thought it would be for a candidate I know will lose, I’m looking forward to wearing my “I Voted!” sticker with the pride of a vote well cast.
Yulia Korovikov is a senior majoring in political science and philosophy. She can be reached at Yulia.Korovikov@tufts.edu.