Should I Vote?

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If I'm not impressed with both the potential major candidates for the US presidential election, should I vote for the lesser of the two evils, or stay away from voting. What would you do? Would like to get people's opinion on the pros and cons.

I wish there was a section on the ballot paper to say why I'm voting for a specific candidate, or why I'm not voting for either of them. At least my voice will have an impact for the next election.
 

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  • #2
Simon Bridge
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I actually had this problem in a NZ election ... I hated all the likely governments. However there were some political policies I wanted to see and nobody was advancing them. I ended up voting for the people most likely, off their track record, to be swayed by strong public opinion... and joined a lobby/protect group. The result was we managed to overturn a bad law ... and the new government proved quite responsive.
There is a school of thought that says that you should not vote for anyone if they are all bad ... but sometimes it is a good idea to vote against the worst candidate rather than for the lesser of evils... if that candidate is extremely bad and may actually get in otherwise. Remember, evil triumphs when good people do nothing.

Note: NZ has proportional representation, and the PM is appointed by the ruling party rather than voted in directly like your President.
There are advantages to your system, but you are experiencing the disadvantages now. We view your elections as a kind of spectator sport with a touch of morbid fascination: good luck.
 
  • #3
Ben Niehoff
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You should vote! If you fail to vote for the lesser of two evils, then we may end up with the greater of them!
 
  • #4
Ryan_m_b
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I'm fairly certain I'm right in saying that you can't vote for your president directly. Other than a popular vote that doesn't count (?). You vote for your local representative, in which case you have to keep in mind not only which party you think would be better at a national level but which representative would be better for your local area.
 
  • #5
JohnDillinger2
If I'm not impressed with both the potential major candidates for the US presidential election, should I vote for the lesser of the two evils, or stay away from voting. What would you do? Would like to get people's opinion on the pros and cons.

I wish there was a section on the ballot paper to say why I'm voting for a specific candidate, or why I'm not voting for either of them. At least my voice will have an impact for the next election.
I would just vote for third party. Don't waste your time on either trump or hillary.
 
  • #6
Ygggdrasil
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1. The presidential election is not the only election in November. There are elections for local government, the House of Representatives, and potentially Senate (depending on where you live). In some states, the Senate race will be particularly important for determining which party controls the Senate. Thus, even if you leave the presidential vote blank, your voice will still have an impact.

2. A vote for a third candidate can matter, especially if you dislike the two party system. By law, any party that gets at least 5% of the popular vote is eligible for federal election funds the next election. Even though a third party is unlikely to win, voting for a third party might make out more likely for them to win in the future. Strong third party showings can also influence the directions of the major parties (e.g. Nader in 2000 may have convinced Democrats to move more to the left).
 
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  • #7
Simon Bridge
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@Ryan_m_b : thanks for that - forced me to go check:
The election of President and Vice President of the United States is an indirect election in which citizens of the United States who are registered to vote in one of the fifty states or Washington, D.C. cast ballots for a set of members of the U.S. Electoral College, known as electors. These electors then in turn cast direct votes, known as electoral votes, for President and Vice President of the United States. The candidate who receives an absolute majority of electoral votes for President or Vice President is then elected to that office. If no candidate receives an absolute majority for President, the House of Representatives chooses the President; if no one receives a majority for Vice President, then the Senate chooses the Vice President. The Electoral College and its procedure is established in the U.S. Constitution by Article II, Section 1, Clauses 2 and 4; and the Twelfth Amendment (which replaced Clause 3 after it was ratified in 1804).
-- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election
... so you vote for the person who you want to vote for the president?
 
  • #8
Ryan_m_b
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@Simon Bridge no problem, this is a pretty good explanation on how it works:

 
  • #9
Ben Niehoff
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I'm fairly certain I'm right in saying that you can't vote for your president directly. Other than a popular vote that doesn't count (?). You vote for your local representative, in which case you have to keep in mind not only which party you think would be better at a national level but which representative would be better for your local area.

What you describe sounds way more like the UK parliamentary system that the US electoral system.

In the US system, you do cast a vote for a presidential candidate. Electors are chosen by a variety of different means in different states. Most (I think all?) electors are bound to vote a particular way; they are not "representatives" in the sense of acting independently. Most states allocate all of their Electoral votes to the candidate that won in that state (which tends to skew the results away from the pure "popular vote" result), but many states allocate their Electors proportionally.

The system is a bit outdated; the reason it exists is to ostensibly give the individual states a little more power, as well as to deal with the logistics of collecting and tallying votes.

After the presidential election, the Electors themselves do not participate in government. So in that sense they are also not "representatives". Members of Congress are elected seperately. (It so happens that the number of Electors allocated to each state is equal to the number of Congresspeople, but they are not the same people).
 
  • #10
jtbell
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Most states allocate all of their Electoral votes to the candidate that won in that state (which tends to skew the results away from the pure "popular vote" result), but many states allocate their Electors proportionally.

All states except two are "winner take all". In Maine and Nebraska, one electoral vote is allocated to the winner in each individual congressional district, and two are allocated to the statewide winner.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College_(United_States)
 
  • #11
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Yes you should vote. I vote my conscience, which usually doesn't involve Dem or Rep. I usually vote Libertarian, Constitution Party, or write in my candidate.
 
  • #12
Astronuc
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If I'm not impressed with both the potential major candidates for the US presidential election, should I vote for the lesser of the two evils, or stay away from voting. What would you do? Would like to get people's opinion on the pros and cons.

I wish there was a section on the ballot paper to say why I'm voting for a specific candidate, or why I'm not voting for either of them. At least my voice will have an impact for the next election.
One should vote one's conscience, as Kevin McHugh mentioned, and for the reasons Ygggdrasil and others stated. It does make a difference, especially if one states one's opinion on a third party.

As for stating why one is voting for or against, one can write an opinion letter to the editor.
 
  • #13
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I'm fairly certain I'm right in saying that you can't vote for your president directly. Other than a popular vote that doesn't count (?). You vote for your local representative, in which case you have to keep in mind not only which party you think would be better at a national level but which representative would be better for your local area.

In the USA that's formally true, but in actual practice the representatives pledge themselves and have no choice in the matter. The Electoral College went obsolete 200 years ago but no one can be bothered to change the rules.
 
  • #14
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Thanks folks. As of now, voting for a third party candidate feels like the best option I have, which I was not thinking before.
 
  • #15
russ_watters
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I'm fairly certain I'm right in saying that you can't vote for your president directly. Other than a popular vote that doesn't count (?). You vote for your local representative, in which case you have to keep in mind not only which party you think would be better at a national level but which representative would be better for your local area.

That's not really correct. As far as I know, all states have the candidates listed on the ballot for the general election. The popular vote counts because it is tallied by state and the electors are assigned per the plurality of the popular vote per state (per previous post: all but two are winner-take-all).

Nor do the state and federal elections have any connection to each other at all, other than occurring on the same day and using the same booths: you vote in them separately.

For the primary election (the party election), my state (Pennsylvania)is a rare one where you have to look up the delegates to see who they are likely to vote for.
 
  • #16
russ_watters
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If I'm not impressed with both the potential major candidates for the US presidential election, should I vote for the lesser of the two evils, or stay away from voting. What would you do? Would like to get people's opinion on the pros and cons.

I wish there was a section on the ballot paper to say why I'm voting for a specific candidate, or why I'm not voting for either of them. At least my voice will have an impact for the next election.
I'm a bit dismayed that you didn't even list voting for a 3rd party candidate as a possibility. It is what I am likely to do. It is much, much better, imo, than not voting.
 
  • #17
Evo
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I'm a bit dismayed that you didn't even list voting for a 3rd party candidate as a possibility. It is what I am likely to do. It is much, much better, imo, than not voting.
Is there really a third party candidate you think is worthy of being President that truly deserves your vote? I can't find one. I'd write in Canada's Prime Minister Trudeau, but unfortunately he's Canadian.
 
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  • #18
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Is there really a third party candidate you think is worthy of being President that truly deserves your vote? I can't find one. I'd write in Canada's Prime Minister Trudeau, but unfortunately he's Canadian.

To me, voting third party is simply a sign of "rebellion," I guess you could say. I don't like either of the options for president in the Republican or Democrat camps. Because of the electoral system and the fact that I live in state in the Deep South, and based on recent polls, all of my state's electoral votes will go to Trump no matter what and my vote will essentially have been useless. Unfortunately, it seems votes in swing states are more valuable, because a democrat's vote in a Republican-majority state will virtually never make a difference, and vice versa.

I don't buy into all this "if you vote third party, the greater of two evils wins." First of all, because half the country disagrees on who the greater of two evils actually is, and second, because even if we end up with an awful president, my vote will not be responsible. My vote is my own to waste.

That's not to say I want to waste my vote on, say, Vermin Supreme. And maybe I will end up voting for one of the two major parties. Honestly, the decision to do that would have to rest not on that candidate's policies as a whole, but on some little bit of policy that I'd like them to implement and that I feel they could implement in the next four years.
 
  • #19
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wELL.... You could always search You Tube for George Carlin's gig on, [I Don't Vote] to help you decide.
It remains a timeless answer for many.

Edit by mod: contains profanity (it's George Carlin), don't watch if you have sensitive ears.

Here's one of the many URLs of his presentation for reference:

John
 
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  • #20
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Kang vs. Kodos
 
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  • #21
Astronuc
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  • #22
Evo
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Ack, NO THANKS!

Hard to say, there's not much posted on what he says on the current issues.

I say it's better to abstain and show no confidence than show confidence in someone that might be worse.
 
  • #23
russ_watters
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Is there really a third party candidate you think is worthy of being President that truly deserves your vote? I can't find one. I'd write in Canada's Prime Minister Trudeau, but unfortunately he's Canadian.
I haven't researched him a ton, but so far I'm liking Gary Johnson: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Johnson
 
  • #24
Evo
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I haven't researched him a ton, but so far I'm liking Gary Johnson: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Johnson
Well, then I will vote for Hillary. I agree with a lot of what she says, not all, but I trust that she's not some bible thumper and is mentally stable and has diplomatic experience, which we really need right now. Not asking anyone to agree with me. Not going to argue that you shouldn't vote for who you want Don't care if no one here agrees with me. To each his own.
 
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  • #25
russ_watters
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Well, then I will vote for Hillary. I agree with a lot of what she says, not all, but I trust that she's not some bible thumper and is mentally stable and has diplomatic experience, which we really need right now. Not asking anyone to agree with me. Not going to argue that you shouldn't vote for who you want Don't care if no one here agrees with me. To each his own.
Ok, I'll allow you to vote for Hillary! :-p
 
  • #27
Fervent Freyja
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Because of the electoral system and the fact that I live in state in the Deep South, and based on recent polls, all of my state's electoral votes will go to Trump no matter what and my vote will essentially have been useless.

Yep, same issues here. Probably my state...
 
  • #28
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Does anyone see a possibility of Sanders joining Green Party after the DNC and becoming their presidential nominee? His ideology looks more aligned with the Green party. He is 74 and does not have to care any backlash if it creates.

The vote base of Sanders is more based on his ideology and trustworthiness, not because of the political party he belongs to. His nomination would be a giant leap towards a 3 party system.

At present, based on the immigration % increase and migrants' preference towards the democratic side, and the highest fertility rate of Latinos, I fear we are moving towards a 1 party system.

Libertarian party also look interesting. For the 2016 election I need to decide between Green party and Libertarian Party. Need to dig some PF discussions for the above two.

Never thought I would ever vote for anything other than Democratic party :confused:
 
  • #29
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Does anyone see a possibility of Sanders joining Green Party after the DNC and becoming their presidential nominee?

No. He says, "I will do everything I can to make sure a Republican is not elected." Were he to foolishly join the Greens he would lose all of his committee positions, becoming a nobody in the Senate.

As it is, he will devote his efforts to getting sympathetic candidates elected. By sending out one email he raised $600,000 each for three candidates. Fundraising ability like that makes you a potent force in politics.
 
  • #30
Ivan Seeking
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Most (I think all?) electors are bound to vote a particular way; they are not "representatives" in the sense of acting independently.

I believe that technically they can vote however they want. I was taught that this is a safety valve to prevent someone like Trump from getting elected if the public goes insane.

There is no Constitutional provision or Federal law that requires Electors to vote according to the results of the popular vote in their States. Some States, however, require Electors to cast their votes according to the popular vote. These pledges fall into two categories—Electors bound by State law and those bound by pledges to political parties.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the Constitution does not require that Electors be completely free to act as they choose and therefore, political parties may extract pledges from electors to vote for the parties’ nominees. Some State laws provide that so-called "faithless Electors"; may be subject to fines or may be disqualified for casting an invalid vote and be replaced by a substitute elector. The Supreme Court has not specifically ruled on the question of whether pledges and penalties for failure to vote as pledged may be enforced under the Constitution. No Elector has ever been prosecuted for failing to vote as pledged.

Today, it is rare for Electors to disregard the popular vote by casting their electoral vote for someone other than their party’s candidate. Electors generally hold a leadership position in their party or were chosen to recognize years of loyal service to the party. Throughout our history as a nation, more than 99 percent of Electors have voted as pledged.
http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/electors.html#restrictions

BTW, I like Gary Johnson. One pundit said he is charisma challenged :D, which is true, but I like many of his positions. Never thought I would see the day when Russ and I like the same candidate!
 

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