Before yesterday’s event at the Kimmel Center for University Life, many students had probably never heard of Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party presidential candidate who spoke in the Richard L. Rosenthal Pavillion. Many individuals are not aware that Johnson is one of three third-party candidates who have the potential to make a surprising difference at the polls this November. Both Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein have made their way onto a significant number of ballots. Meanwhile, Constitution party candidate Virgil Goode, while less popular nationally, has sway in his home state of Virginia, where major party candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are neck and neck.
As election day approaches, the campaign inevitably divides the majority of voters into the two, more recognizable parties. Often, many people regard votes for third-party candidates as a waste of a vote, or they believe third-party votes only take away support for the major party’s candidates. Though a June Gallup poll estimates that only five percent of votes will be directed away from the two major parties, it is this small percentage that could cost either candidate the election — and prove third parties
make a difference.
Oftentimes, voters do not find their views exactly in concurrence with those of the major candidates. As a result, they feel forced to choose between the two most popular candidates, or they decide not to participate in the voting process at all. Third-party candidates ensure that those whose views differ from the mainstream have an alternative option. Allowing third-party candidates to run not only encourages every American to participate in the democratic process, but it also sends a strong message to the minority that their voices are as equally heard as those of the majority.
When it comes to choices, third-party candidates add another dimension from the standard polar stances of the two major parties. We can not confirm whether their involvement increases participation in voting among U.S. citizens who do not prefer the major party candidates, but it is undeniable that it paints a more idealistic portrait of the country’s democracy.
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Sept. 19 print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at email@example.com.
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