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It is a well known phrase around this time of the year, "you are throwing your vote away".  This is a canned response from anyone who discovers that you, *gasp*, are not voting for the major party.  It will take you all of 10 minutes to realize that these words are absolutely wrong and in fact, with the help of the electoral college chances are that voting for a major party *is* throwing away the vote.

Let me explain.

If you live in a non-battleground state, that is the majority of you, but live in a State with a very definitive shade of blue and red then your vote is decided for you.   Now if you are happy with the decision, then all is well and I envy you, as they say - ignorance is bliss.

What about the many of you who are NOT happy with your choice, but you are going to vote anyway?  Let's say you live in Massachusetts and you really dislike Obama.  Sorry to burst your bubble, but a vote for Romney is a waste.   What about if you live in Georgia and really dislike Romney?  Again, sorry for the bad news, but your vote for Obama is a waste.   Yes, a complete and utter waste - it simply does not matter, you might as well not vote for the President at all....or should you?

Are you tired of the two party system?  Are you tired that every 4 years the choice becomes less and less obvious?   Are you tired of voting for the same big spending, big military, big prohibition, less rights and more intervention party?  Do you even believe that there are two parties anymore?  Unless your entire political concern lies somewhere in the abortion/religion/homosexuality triangle then you are probably yearning for more.

So there is a little know fact that I want to share with you.  According to the Federal Election Commission your vote DOES matter.  In fact your vote matters far more if you vote third party, then if you vote major party while living in a State where the EC has determined the outcome.  

Why does it matter?  If a third party candidate like Gary Johnson or Jill Stein obtains 5% of the total vote, two things happen.  First, they become instantly eligible to be a candidate on all 50 ballots.  As of now, neither GJ or JS have made it on all 50 and claim that they are being blocked by the major parties.  Secondly, and probably more important than anything they become eligible for federal funding matches.  

Since no third party candidate received 5% of the vote in 2008, only the Republican and Democratic parties are eligible for 2012 convention grants, and only their nominees may receive grants for the general election when they are nominated. Third-party candidates could qualify for retroactive public funds if they receive 5% or more of the vote in the general election.

Because the major parties have become so wealthy they are now declining the grants, but for someone like Johnson or Stein these grants are crucial.  Since money is information and information is the key in the political process, getting 5% becomes imperative.  With each additional % gained the eligibility of the federal funding increases.  That means each vote helps the minority party secure more money and more access come 2016, this is exactly the opposite of a wasted vote.

So that end, I have created a very simple to follow flowchart that can be passed around to those individuals whose vote can make a huge difference in breaking down the two-party one-party choke hold.   

Note:  I am sticking to Gary Johnson and Jill Stein as third-party candidates, because Rocky Anderson and Virgil Goode are similar enough (Rocky to Jill and Virgil to Gary) that advocating for them would for the moment, at least, be entirely counter-productive.  

So the next time some Republican in Connecticut or Democrat in Tennessee mocks you, remind them that they are ones throwing their vote away.

Presented without further commentary:


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"It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.” - M. Rothbard