By Bill Lanier
NEW PALTZ – This Nov. 8 may be the most divisive, yet important election in American history. With the two major candidates being some of the most disliked in history, many people are choosing to opt for third-party candidates such as Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. While voting for a third-party candidate can be seen as unwise by many, the two party system leaves little room for those who do not favor either major candidate to exercise their right to vote.
One major issue with the two party system is that people tend to be uneducated about third-party candidates and their platforms. Many of the people that voted in New Paltz, New York were supporters of either Trump or Clinton, and lacked extensive knowledge on the third-party candidates other than what they have seen on television and in the media.
Alan Stout, 67-year-old New Paltz resident and registered Democrat, said that he doesn’t know much about Johnson or Stein, only what he saw of “Johnson’s gaffe about Aleppo on television.” Stout also stated that he never considered voting for third-party candidates as a protest vote, but doesn’t see the importance in those votes. “I know all politicians promise the world during their campaigns, but I’ve never voted Republican, and I’m anxious to elect Clinton to the White House.”
The lack of knowledge surrounding third-party candidates could very well be a reason that their turnouts are far less than the major party candidates. While some people may agree with some third-party platforms, they might not know enough about the candidates themselves.
Abigail Swint, 21-year-old student at SUNY New Paltz who canvased for Zephyr Teachout in the New Paltz/Kingston area, voiced her opinion on the two party system and how it leaves very little for the third-party candidates. “I believe that if someone doesn’t agree with the Republican or Democratic candidates, they should be able to vote for what they believe in without being seen as a protest vote.” Swint also said that “[third-party candidates] don’t get as much funding [as major candidates] and have far less support, and are often more progressive than other candidates, such as the Green Party’s focus on climate change.”
Many people tend to think that voting for a third-party siphons votes away from the major candidates. However, a significant number of people also believe that having the right to vote is entirely personal, and one should be able to vote for whichever candidate they support most. While this election may be the most divisive one we’ve seen yet, people still believe that voting is a right that should be exercised freely, even if it isn’t in favor of a major candidate.