This post is the fifth in a continuing feature of independent candidate’s responses to roundtable questions posed by Independent Voters of America. Independent Voters of America has been reaching out to independent and third party candidates across the country to gather their opinions and insights on issues of interest to our community.
The “wasted vote” argument can be a powerful one in our American electoral system – it’s often a hurdle that independent, third party, and challenger candidates across the country struggle to overcome. To convince voters that they are viable, independent candidates must have strong answers ready when the subject arises. Previous contributors to our roundtable series had interesting thoughts on this subject, and today’s candidates contributing to the discussion are:
Steven Reynolds – Candidate for Congress in Oregon’s 1st District
Jeremy Stinson – Candidate for Congress in Maryland’s 5th District
Linda Parks - Candidate for Congress in California’s 26th District
Bill Bloomfield - Candidate for Congress in California’s 33rd District
Cesar Henao - Candidate for Congress in Florida’s 21st District
The question posed to the candidates was:
How will you counter the “wasted vote” argument that all independent and third party challengers face?
Steven Reynolds: In this election I have the benefit of facing an extremely weak Republican and the Democrat incumbent. The Republican candidate has placed herself far to the right of the center which essentially makes her un-electable in a liberal leaning district. My positions are both “left” and “right” without aligning myself with any of the dominant party’s.
Jeremy Stinson: I’m asked that question fairly often, and I tell people that if they rally their friends and family to vote as they did, then the minority will quickly become the majority and the “wasted vote” will then be for my opponent. The truth in the matter is, educating the public that the choice is truly theirs and they determine the outcomes of elections. Until they embrace that fully, then we will always have the threat of wasted votes.
Linda Parks: Polling showed I was favored to win by a large margin, so I was not a “wasted vote,” rather a threat to the party leaders. While neither the Republican nor the Democratic candidate were moderates, their performance was not as relevant as the big outside money (about $2 million) that came in and eventually prevailed in a smear campaign against me.
Bill Bloomfield: By beating [the incumbent] Congressman Waxman. Also, by pointing out that I will be the most important person in the House; the one person who is completely free to vote his conscience on every issue. By winning, I will send a powerful message to the other 534 representatives and senators in Congress that if they spend their time bickering, trying to score political points, pandering to special interests and working on their re-election, they will no longer be sent back. And, as a co-founder of No Labels, I will hardly be alone, as the group plans to assemble a coalition of like-minded Senators and House members who support our aims. That coalition may hold the balance of power in the next Congress.
In California the new open primary system that I strongly supported allows only two candidates to advance to the general election. The voters will have a clear choice between myself and Henry Waxman, and no vote will be “wasted.”
Cesar Henao: In our race, there is no “wasted vote’, there is no Republican in the race which makes me the only real alternative to the Democratic candidate. So for independents and Republicans, voting for an independent has real meaning.