The following letter-to-the-editor by Hannah Tomboulides, Director at-large for the Brevard County, Florida Libertarian Party, was published in USA Today, the country’s largest circulation daily newspaper, on September 17, 2020:
I keep hearing I’m wasting my vote for the presidential election because I’m voting for Libertarian Party candidate Dr. Jo Jorgensen.
Here’s the wild part: One person will follow up to tell me it’s really a vote for the Democrat, and another will tell me it’s a vote for the Republican! There’s a running joke now about third-party voters getting to vote three times in one go. And when I ask for an explanation, I never really get one. “That’s just the way it is,” they say.
But is it?
Jorgensen is currently excluded from the presidential debates, because the Commission on Presidential Debates requires candidates to poll at 15% with the Commission’s selected organizations. The Commission is run by the Republican and Democratic Parties, who don’t want competition, so this criterion entirely excludes third parties by design.
In early August, volunteers all over the country got together for the “Let Her Speak” convoy to protest the Commission’s third-party exclusion.
The best way to get their attention, though, is with our votes, and Jorgensen will be on the ballot in all 50 states. The Federal Election Commission considers just 5% of the vote to be significant for their purposes, and some states offer things like ballot access at that 5% mark. In Florida, ballot access is automatic, but 5% is the threshold at which parties receive major party status.
Even so, I keep hearing that “the goal” — as if there is one, unwritten and unquestionable goal shared by absolutely everyone — is either to remove the current president or to keep him in place. I’m told this election is “too important” to vote third-party.
“This is the most important election of our lifetimes” has become a cliché — overused and underwhelming.
Every election, someone is there to tell us we must vote for “the lesser of two evils” and we can vote our principles “next time.” There is never a good time with this mindset, because granting that premise, your vote only counts if it helps them achieve what they want. Never mind what you want.
Where does that leave those of us who are deeply concerned about the debt and dysfunction Democrats and Republicans co-created? Countless Americans are fed up and aren’t interested in either of them.
The myth of the wasted vote is a fear-based lie. Frantically, we are told that if we do not get in line, the country will face new tariffs, increased spending and government subsidies to large corporations. Can you tell which of the largest two parties I’m talking about here? No? Unfortunately, neither can I.
I might have expected some understanding from a red voter in a deep blue state or vice versa. With the current system, if you live in a state that’s solid in one direction, one single opposing vote doesn’t do much of anything to change the direction on its own. If those voters educate the public and raise awareness about their cause, they can start a shift. Honestly, they know this is the case, and it is the very reason for perpetuating this myth. But every voter does have options, and you can be a part of taking back our voices from the elite.
Alternatively, I posit that each election is too important to not vote third-party, and that the true “lesser evil” is voting for a candidate who may not have as good of odds to win but who will actually represent you on your big issues. How many times, as a red or blue voter, have you thought highly of and voted for someone only to be surprised when they so sorely disappointed you shortly after their election? If you keep voting for the establishment, you will keep receiving the establishment.
Democrat candidates assume they’ve got the equality vote, and Republicans assume they’ve got the prosperity vote. Ultimately, they’re not delivering. If that’s not what you want, don’t let them keep taking you and your vote for granted.
Libertarians have our own goal, which is to see an end to this two-sided hold on elections. We won’t get there by wasting our votes on an old party.