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Your same argument that it's pointless to vote for either of the major parties also applies to voting for a third party. Your vote doesn't matter either way. You could easily say "who cares if Nader loses by 2,304,418 or 2,304,417 votes?" Regardless, I think people don't vote for a third party because they want to prevent a greater evil by voting for a lesser evil. Someone will vote for Gore if it will prevent Bush from becoming president or vice-versa. If someone either does not care which candidate wins or if one of the candidates has a definitive lead, then by all means vote for the third party that best represents your views.

In 1960, JFK received a total of 34,337,096 votes versus Nixon's 34,108,546. This is a difference of 168,550. A third party candidate received 502,363 votes. Of course, Kennedy won handily on the electoral college front, but this was also the result of a lot of nail-biter local counts. So here, if some of those that voted for the independent candidate had shifted their votes, we might have had a different outcome.

Now we stand on the brink of another razor-thin election. If you want to vote for Nader, Buchanan, Haeglin, Brown, LaRouche, or whomever, then do it because you want to voice your support for that candidate or a certain philosophy. Do it because you want to see the Green Party get federal funding next time around.

But don't think that your vote makes no difference. If there's one thing that every politician bases a campaign on, it's poll numbers and voting records. If yours is the one vote that turns a 49.99% rating into a 50% rating, you can be damn sure it will make a difference. Maybe not a big one, but at least you said something you believed in.

Well, nobody is going to believe this, at least in the contested areas, for a long time to come. As I write this writeup, Bush is ahead of Gore in the Florida recount by 341 votes. This is a ridiculously small amount, easily within the margin of error (ie every recount would likely come up with slightly different results, and the variation would probably be enough for a different person to be called the winner after each one).

But because the difference is so small, no longer will people, at least in the state of Florida, feel that voting for a third party is ok because their vote does not matter. It doesn't mean they can't vote for a third party, but the "your vote doesn't matter" idea will be demonstrated to not be applicable.

My guess is that this election will increase voter turnout in future elections because people will see that they can matter.

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