by Marina Leiva
In the US two-party system, third parties have a hard time making a dent in votes throughout the presidential elections. Even so, there are still people who cast their ballots in favour of these parties and their candidates.
This issue starts at the beginning, with third parties having to petition in order to appear in the ballots. The Electoral College system, not leading a proportional representation, does not make it easier.
The two main third-party candidates, the Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party Jill Stein, do have some supporters and were fighting to get at least five per cent of the vote.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clintons’ controversial presidential campaigns made some people lean toward a third party candidate. Caitlin Cichoracki, 20, a student from Florida said that she “chose to vote third party after Clinton and Trump were elected”.
Doug Kortright, 30, Emergency Medical Technician from Sarasota, Florida chose to vote for Jill Stein for the same reasons. He said that after Clinton’s nomination ‘’myself and many others went looking for a candidate to vote for, rather than to vote against’’.
Their decisions reflect the low likeability of the two main parties’ candidates which was clear when the presidential race started.
For voters like Cichoracki the main aim when casting a vote for a third party is to avoid Trump or Clinton getting the 270 votes they need from the Electoral College in order to be elected. This reasoning takes away the commonly held idea that voting for a third party is useless.
In the event of neither candidate reaching the necessary 270 votes, the winner of the presidential race will be chosen in a fairer scenario.
As Cichoracki said ‘’if they don’t get the 270, the election is thrown to the House of Representatives who will vote on who will be president. All states become equal if this were to happen as each state will receive one vote’’.
This presidential campaign was tainted by the uncertainty among voters when it comes to choosing between two candidates they do not necessarily like. This was also seen among party members, with some Republicans deciding to vote for Clinton.
Kortright said that his vote ‘’acts as a voice of opposition. As well as building a new major party for years to come. If we still have a country in four years, I believe we the people can start a major shift and join the rest of the modern world with health care and education for our citizens’’.
This shows the need to fix the US electoral system, Cichoracki said, “the lack of representativeness in this election has brought the flaws of the two party system to forefront of political discussion, which makes me hopeful that it will change in my lifetime”.