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Not a wasted vote
Independent Cause

Why Voting for Independent Candidates Isn't a Wasted Vote

2 min read
Not a wasted vote
Good Party Politics Team · Apr 11, 2023

Third-party and independents candidates in the United States have often been perceived as candidates with no chance of winning. People have viewed voting third party as a wasted vote. Many electorates feel they must either vote for the "lesser of two evils" or risk throwing away their vote.

However, potential viewpoints are left out when voters are discouraged from voting for alternative candidates. This perception also ignores the fact that many third-party candidates have significantly impacted American politics. For example, Ross Perot's candidacy in 1992 injected new ideas into the political discourse. His candidacy helped to shape national policy decisions. The U.S. voting system is a winner-takes-all plurality, which makes it hard for third-party candidates to win. This article will give a detailed review of why voting for third parties is not a waste.

The Role of Independent Candidates in Politics

Mainstream parties in the world tend to ignore key issues that affect citizens. Some issues include income inequality, climate change, and mental health. Few political groups have a clear solution to the rising rich-poor disparities. Thus, this inequality produces poverty, social instability, and unequal healthcare and education. Also, climate change affects everyone, yet politicians think scientists and environmentalists should handle it. Many people have already suffered diverse consequences like rising sea levels. Also, the mental health crisis has been rising for years, yet many political parties ignore it. These issues can have detrimental consequences on the whole of society. Having such points can result in a major win. Thus, an independent candidate can cause mainstream parties to focus on such needs.

Encouraging Healthy Political Discourse and Debate

An independent candidate can address thorny issues that typical politicians avoid. As a result, the voices of the unheard get represented. They also threaten the political establishment if they win elections. They bring fresh perspectives and ideas that challenge the status quo. They may also reflect the people's interests since party decisions don't limit them. Independent party contesters also promote accountability and transparency. They don't face bureaucratic hurdles since they lack political affiliations. Thus, they can be more transparent and accountable to the public. The more responsible the political party is, the more trustworthy it becomes. Thus, increased polarization increased the representation of the voices of the unheard.

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Giving Voters More Options that Match their Attitudes and Beliefs

Having more choices on the ballot than the popular "two evils" offers electorates a wider range of representation. Limited ballot choices confine voters' ideals to established political parties or candidates. With more party options, electorates may compromise politicians who share their values. Furthermore, extra choices on the ballot increase political participation resulting in higher voter turnout. Most non-voters feel wasted by politicians due to failed promises; hence their hesitance to vote. However, more party options will spur political interest, encouraging voter support. That results in a more engaging political culture fostering meaningful political discussions.

The Impact of Third-Party and Independent Votes on Election Outcomes

A third-party candidate can bring new perspectives the two parties may not represent. Moreover, they can help to nullify party political dominance and enhance accountability. These candidates can split a particular party's popular vote. For example, if many candidates poll evenly, the winners may not be Republicans or Democrats. Additionally, independent party contestants often tackle issues that major parties seldom address. It enables more voices that feel wasted to speak up. These party candidates also provide a political alternative for electorates to vote. Often, electorates don't believe in the two-party system yet feel forced to vote for one of the two parties. These party candidates represent other options for such voters.

Influence on Policy Positions Adopted by the Two-Party Organization

The more competitive the election, the more independent party contestants take part. These participants usually enter the race with solid ideological agendas. The agenda can sometimes address issues that the two-party organization ignores. In response, mainstream parties typically adjust their policy views to overcome the competition. For instance, in 1992, Ross Perot focused on reducing the national debt and the power of Washington lobbyists. He focused on the need for fiscal responsibility, which neither the Democratic nor Republican parties were emphasizing.

Instead of supporting tax cuts, the Republican group began emphasizing fiscal balance. This shift in policy was due to the potential loss of conservative votes to Perot's party. Party candidates may also force major parties to face controversial or hazardous subjects. For instance, the Green Party's Ralph Nader and the Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson have both pushed for the legalization of marijuana. The Libertarian Party focuses on individual liberty and limited government. While the Libertarian Party has not been able to win many elections, it has managed to influence policies and debates.

Encouraging Electoral Reform and Better Representation

Electoral reform is necessary to ensure that parties represent the people's will. More representative politics can be achieved by improving election laws and regulations. Party candidates can advocate for expanded ballot access. Several states need thousands of signatures for such contestants to get on the ballot box. Some party contestants have openly criticized this unjust restriction, resulting in ballot access. Independent party contestants can also promote ranked-choice voting. This aspect of political science allows voters to rank their party contestants instead of simply choosing one. A third party can gain traction since this will not be a wasted vote. For example, in Maine, Lisa Savage's party took 33% of the vote in 2020 without spoiling the election.

The Role of Individual Votes in Shaping the Political Landscape

A key feature of democracy is citizens' right to vote and participate in their governance. Individual votes determine the outcomes of elections. Electoral results influence political leadership and direction. Furthermore, Individual voices communicate public opinion. Officials assess public opinion and adjust their policies accordingly. Voting patterns help policymakers adjust policy initiatives to reflect the electorate's perspectives better. Individual electoral votes can also shift party politics, influencing voting trends. Parties change their policies to cater to changing interest groups while retaining their voting bases. Voter attitudes may change this equilibrium, requiring parties to adapt their agendas to new groups.

The Power of Collective Action in Driving Change

Collective action enhances the multiplication of effort. Each person's abilities are significant in achieving what would be unachievable for an individual. Collective action is also essential in overcoming individuals' barriers when initiating change. These barriers can be social, economic, and political. For instance, marginalized communities may lack the resources to influence decision-making. However, when these communities unite and vote, they can amplify their voices and demand change. Collective action also helps individuals overcome the fear of retribution and victimization. Individuals create a safety net that protects them against retaliation.

The Necessity of Voting with Conviction

Voting with conviction protects democracy from its enemies. That means making a well-informed choice that reflects one's beliefs and values. It requires researching the party aspirants, policies, and track records. This way, the voter ensures that their vote is not just a number but a voice. Party aspirants without proper values get into office if voters don't vote with conviction. This situation might result in unpopular choices, undermining democracy. To preserve democracy, we must stay educated and vote for our principles.

Examples of Successful Third-Party and Independent Candidates

#1: Ralph Nader

He was a consumer rights advocate who made three unsuccessful presidential bids on the Green Party ticket. In the 2000 presidential election, he earned nearly 97,000 votes in a state where George Bush gathered 537. Many Democrats believe Nader's campaign wasted Al Gore's polls and gave Bush the victory. Nader's campaign focused on corporate corruption, environmental protection, and social justice issues.

#2: Ross Perot

He was a Texas businessman and ran two presidential elections as an independent candidate. In 1992, Perot received over 19 million electoral votes. Until then, there had never been a successful third-party candidate in America's history as he was. His campaign focused on budget deficits and government waste. In 1996, Perot spent $12 million on 30-minute infomercials explaining his reform plans.

#3: Eugene V. Debs

He was a labor leader and socialist activist and ran for presidential office five times. Furthermore, he vied once as a Social Democratic Party candidate. He also contested as a party candidate for and Socialist Party of America four times. This third-party candidate focused on workers' rights and social welfare programs. He helped to shape the party policies on issues like work conditions and child labor laws.

#4: Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders is a Vermont Senator and the longest-serving independent in U.S. Congressional history. Sanders has often caucused with the Democratic Party, despite identifying as an independent candidate.

#5: Justin Amash

He is a former Republican party candidate from Michigan. This third-party candidate announced he was leaving the GOP and running for reelection as an Independent. Amash won one seat in a landslide, beating his opponents by a margin of almost 10% of the vote. The Republican was also a public critic of former President Donald Trump. Furthermore, the former Republican is widely regarded as a conscientious and thoughtful lawmaker.

#6: Dave Bronson

In 2021, another win came from a municipal election in Anchorage, Alaska. Bronson ran on a platform of fiscal conservatism and pro-business policies. He won by 16 points of the vote with a campaign that aggressively engaged city people. Bronson differed with Joe Biden on mask mandates during the COVID pandemic.

Overcoming the Wasted Vote Mentality

These independent and third-party candidates bring a fresh perspective and challenge the status quo. They represent the voice of the disenfranchised people and offer viable alternatives. Raising awareness encourages people to vote, whether Republicans or Democrats. Too often, supporters feel their voice doesn't matter and must choose between the lesser of two evils. Moreover, such presidential candidates often focus on different solutions than the major parties. Promoting these party contenders encourages a more nuanced discussion of our society's problems. This step builds a more functional democracy that effectively addresses complex societal issues.

Encouraging Voters to Prioritize Issues and Values Over Strategic Voting

When voters prioritize their values, they create a better democracy. That also results in a more transparent voting process. Voters also become more active and hold leaders responsible for their commitments. Thus, citizens pressure the party aspirants to behave more morally, and reform is achieved. Prioritizing values can also lead to an increase in political efficacy. When people vote strategically, they often feel their voice is lost in the election process. But prioritizing values may make them more likely to feel involved in the vote. It improves civic confidence and encourages civic action.

Promoting Electoral Reforms

Electoral reform is a key issue in creating a more inclusive political system. The current party system often leaves many people excluded from the political process. Promoting electoral reform will make the political system more inclusive. The political process will reflect the people's will by changing the party voting system. Also, more diverse ideas and opinions will be heard. Also, redistricting rules will help ensure that districts are drawn fairly and equitably. That prevents the manipulations that favor one party over the other. Campaign finance reforms will restrict rich contributors' influence.


A vote for a minority-party candidate may be seen as a wasted vote since the two-party system has more attention. This interpretation, however, may be misleading. A vote cast for such a party candidate assists to bring fresh viewpoints and ideas into the two-party organizations. The parties may push the majority parties to adopt similar policies. Additionally, third-party voting can impact the election outcome in close races in the country.

In this aspect of political science, elected party individuals are a true representation of their constituents. Most people in America may have their opinions heard and considered during policymaking. For this reason, high voter turnout is realized. In addition, it is also necessary to encourage active monitorial participation from the electorate to hold the elected officials accountable. Such a multi-party system would lead to better political representation and good governance.

Each candidate should be interested in political seats and use their right to vote. By exercising their franchise, citizens may guarantee that their interests will be represented in government policy. Moreover, safeguarding the legitimacy of the voting process is simplified. Apathy can lead to a lack of proportional representation. Thus, every voter should abandon the "wasted votes" mindset, as each vote does matter.

Want to learn more about the independent movement? Join Good Party's growing community of political independents and learn how you can get involved.

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Not a wasted vote
By Good Party Politics Team
The politics team is focused on transforming the political landscape by promoting transparency, accountability, and positive change. They aim to engage citizens in the political process, encourage informed decision-making, and support candidates who prioritize the common good. Their mission revolves around creating a more fair and just political system, fostering collaboration, and breaking down traditional barriers of partisanship.