Third-Party Candidates And The Electoral College

In 2020, I started to become more aware of the value of politics in the country. I kind of took on that 2020 social media activist role (you know what I’m talking about), and my one goal was to advocate for what I could: vaccinations, climate change, and, particularly, getting Trump out of office in the upcoming election.

I remember seeing someone I went to middle school with posting about how the only way our government could ever be saved is if we vote for a third-party candidate. Of course, at the time, I thought that was crazy. Why would someone throw their vote away like that? Especially when the 2020 election was so focused, at least for those leaning left, to get Trump out of office. My philosophy was always to pick the better of two evils, and in this case, that was Biden.

That’s still my goal for the 2024 election. Keep he who shall not be named far away. However, I recently saw a mini-movement online discussing third-party candidates for the upcoming election, so I decided to look into it. And to my surprise, I really agreed with some of the candidates’ beliefs, so much so that I would be willing to vote for them in 2024.

As of 2018, 68% of Americans want the two-party system to change, but no one seems ever to actually vote for that third-party candidate. This could be because we’re always taught to pick the better of two evils because a third-party candidate has never been president. And honestly, that’s fair. In a world where politicians are so corrupt and focused on pleasing their party over the people they are there to serve, no one wants to risk their vote.

“Early polls have found that when voters are offered a third choice, up to 17% grab it — enough to swing the election,” said an LA Times columnist. That statistic insinuates that if enough people choose to be brave and vote third party, they could make a much bigger impact than they think and not necessarily throw away their vote.

However, if you’re looking through a “two evils” lens, voting third party in the upcoming election could actually push Trump back into office. According to the same LA Times article, 16% of Biden voters would switch if they found an alternative candidate, whereas 11% of Trump voters would switch their vote if they found another candidate. However, these statistics came from “small overall movements that lie inside the margin of error for each poll.” So there is also a possibility that a third-party vote won’t help Trump get back into office after all. 

Most political researchers agree a third-party candidate couldn’t win but rather alter the numbers and tip the election. Many researchers also believe a third-party candidate of either right or left-leaning could help make modern politics less divided, something many people agree is harming how our government runs. 

Personally, I still don’t know who I would vote for (though certainly not Trump). What I think, though, is that it’s worth it to start looking at all candidates running. We shouldn’t have to pick the lesser of two evils. We deserve to vote for who will help us.


The electoral college is built so that only a Democrat or Republican can win. It is a system that is not built for what the people want.  In 2016, when I was in middle school, I thought Hillary Clinton was going to be the next president of the United States. She had the popular vote, after all. However, my dad had to explain to me the next day that it didn’t matter that she had the public’s vote. The electoral college had voted for Trump. I couldn’t wrap my mind around how everyone talks about our duty as citizens to vote, but in the end, our vote doesn’t even matter. 

The electoral college has long been a debate for decades now. “Despite what you may have learned in school, it was not the product of careful design by brilliant men. Thrown together at the last minute by the country’s founders, it almost immediately stopped functioning as they thought it would. And yet we have generally accepted it for centuries on the assumption it serves an important purpose,” said Jesse Wegman of the NYT Ed-board. He further goes on to say, “Today, 48 states use winner-take-all. As a result, most are considered “safe,” that is, comfortably in hand for one party or the other. No amount of campaigning will change that. The only states that matter to either party are the “battleground” states — especially bigger ones like Florida and Pennsylvania, where a swing of a few thousand or even a few hundred votes can shift the entire pot of electors from one candidate to the other.”

It seems to be a popular view that the Electoral College is unfair- even many presidential candidates want to abolish it. But could that ever change? “The National Archives reports that over the past 200 years, more than 700 proposals have been introduced in Congress to reform or eliminate the Electoral College – without any becoming law.” This is because the Electoral College is constitutionally mandated, something that is affecting many other laws, such as the abolishing of guns. In the discussion of abolishing guns, people have brought up that when the Constitution was ratified, people were using muskets to hunt, not semi-automatic rifles to kill other people. The overall message is that we as people have changed since the 1700s. 

Darrell M. West was an advocate for keeping the Electoral College, but in recent years, he wrote a paper explaining why he changed his mind. “Many of the latter worried that states such as Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia would dominate the presidency so they devised an institution where each state had Electoral College votes in proportion to the number of its senators and House members.” However, he argues that more recently, government officials are going against the electoral college. “…the Electoral College suffers from another difficulty known as the “faithless elector” issue in which that body’s electors cast their ballot in opposition to the dictates of their state’s popular vote.” Ultimately, his argument is that the Electoral College is poorly suited for an era of high-income inequality and widespread geographic disparities.

Considering how adamantly against abolishing constitutional amendments politicians are, I doubt the Electoral College will be leaving any time soon. That being said, I think it’s important to question and research our voting system. Just because you are taught that the Electoral College is there doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to question its ethics.

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