What Is Safe State Voting? Third Party Supporters Have Mixed Feelings About The Strategy

In the United States' two-party political system, voting for a third-party candidate is often controversial; this is the case because third party candidates can take votes "away" from the major party candidate to whom they are most similar. Thus, Americans are often advised to not vote for third party candidates because of this issue; however, some people believe that safe state voting on Election Day is a way for them to avoid this conundrum and still express their support for a third party candidate and platform.

According to the safe state strategy, location dictates whether or not a third party candidate supporter will choose to vote for a third party candidate or a major party candidate. The strategy suggests that you vote for the third party candidate you support only if you live in a non-swing state. The reasoning goes, then, that your vote will act as a testament to third party support without influencing the major outcome in the state. For example, if you're a third party voter and live in a historically democratic-leaning state, the strategy suggests you vote for a third party candidate instead of for Hilary Clinton, since she's expected to win the state by a large margin regardless. However, in reality, it isn't safe to assume a major party candidate will win without your vote.

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Alternatively, the safe state strategy says that you vote for a major party candidate instead of a third party one if you live in a swing state. This assumes, perhaps wrongly, that your vote is more influential in a swing state than it is in a non-swing state.

Proponents of the controversial strategy believe it guarantees that the third party platform is heard and elevated while still ensuring that a major party candidate who is more favorable to their views is elected. Indeed, in previous elections groups of progressive parties have directly called on their members to implement the safe state voting strategy.

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However, some third party supporters wish to directly support their candidate, regardless of where there live, and do not necessarily agree with the notion that a third party vote is a "vote for the opposition." On the flip side, some opponents of third party voting believe that voting for a third party presidential candidate at all is relatively inconsequential.

Regardless of your position on third party voting and candidates, you must be aware of the intricate dynamics of this election. When it comes down to it, the impact of your vote is incredibly important, whether you live in a swing state or not.