Harker alumni campaigners speak out against third party protest voters

November 8, 2016

Harker alumni campaigners speak out against third party protest voters .With many voters dissatisfied with presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, some have turned to protest voting, electing to check the boxes of third-party candidates rather than surrender their ballots to either candidate.

Aside from Trump for the Republicans and Clinton for the Democrats, three other relatively known candidates, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, Jill Stein of the Green Party and Evan McMullin, an independent, grace the 2016 presidential election ballot.

However, some believe protest voting usually ends up becoming a vote with the opposite effect of what the voter had intended.

Sahana Narayanan (‘16) is a part of the Columbia University College Democrats, a student political organization on campus, and she worked at the Hillary Clinton Campaign headquarters in coordination with the Pennsylvania State Democratic Party.

“Talking to a lot of the people this weekend who said they were not going to vote for a third-party like Gary Johnson, we actually had to tell them not voting or voting for a third-party was a vote for Trump,” Narayanan said. “By voting for the other party, you are voting for someone with your opposite viewpoints.”

Some states have seen considerable support for Johnson from voters of all ages, which is especially significant in those states with very close Trump and Hillary support projections.

“Looking at the results right now, there are states where Johnson has some support, and it’s a little disheartening because in those states, Trump and Hillary are close and I think [the votes that Johnson would win] can make a difference,” Narayanan said.

In a poll of upper school students conducted by Harker Aquila, 79.5 percent of students knew what protest voting was, but only 34.2 percent believed that protest voting will have a tangible effect on the election.

“Protest voting is not an efficacious means of raising awareness. It should only come from those who otherwise would not engage in the political process,” Annie Zhou (‘16) said. “Given the bipartisan nature of politics in the United States, protest voting has an effect on the election in that it siphons votes away from heavyweight candidates. Basically, if you’re planning on protest voting, given how close it is, just don’t.”

In a two-party political system like that of the United States, voting for a third-party candidate almost always is the equivalent of not voting at all.

“There [are] two major parties and I think that [choosing another party] is really shortsighted view,” Michael Haider, who participated in the Santa Clara poll, said. “In my opinion, this election, neither candidate was really qualified to become President of the United States, but you have to make a choice. Unfortunately, this is what happened this time but hopefully, it doesn’t happen again.”

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