To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My Vote Doesn't Count... Except When It Does

Over at Reason, Nick Gillespie posted a response to the demonstrated indifference of some staffers toward voting in today's elections. Several Reason editors refuse to vote along the "my voted isn't counted" or "it just encourages them" arguments.

For a political magazine, this naivete of the gearworks of American politics is breathtaking. The biggest hurdle to libertarian/Libertarian/ third-party candidates is ballot access, followed by access to "public" forums and debates. Here in Connecticut, a candidate must show that his or her party received 5 percent of the vote in the last election or submit an arbitrary number of signatures to the election gatekeepers to have the candidate's name appear on the ballot. Or sometimes they just become entangled in the briars surrounding the Secretary of State and never make it farther, as John Mertens did. If they accomplish that, then they must also show 5 percent or vault over even higher hurdles to receive invitations to forums and debates, which are often sponsored by groups that, if not partisan like the AARP, are at least married to the binary system and loathe any disruption to it (I believe one group which denied Phil Maymin access to a debate wanted his campaign to prove he could pull in 10 percent).

If you vote for a third-party candidate, does your vote make a difference? Probably not -- except when it does by making it that much easier for the candidate or another in his or her party to get on the ticket next time. And when that time comes, the candidate may be able to convert a few more people. Then they vote, and so on. And without going off on a whole pedantic screed about the Federalists, Whigs, Know-Nothings, and Bull-Mooses, I think you can see where I'm going with this.