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Go Ahead, Throw Your Vote Away

A math lesson for critics of third-party voters

Jason KeislingJason KeislingI recently had a pleasant encounter with a great and outspoken American who, despite his libertarian leanings, supports Hillary Clinton for president. I congratulated him on making a tough call but allowed as how I was looking forward to casting my ballot for the Libertarian Party's flag bearers, Gary Johnson and William Weld. "It will be unadulterated pleasure," I offered, "as there is no opportunity cost."

My correspondent fired back: "Opportunity cost is Trump gets elected."

I stand by my recklessness.

Here's where the curious nature of the American Electoral College comes in handy. Even where my vote—or the votes of my 100 closest, most easily influenced "inner circle"—might swing an election, there is simply no real chance that pushing either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton over the top in South Carolina, where I live, will determine the outcome of the presidential race. If Hillary wobbles to victory in my current state of residence, she would have already demolished The Donald in the Electoral College. Similarly, in Maryland (where our family lived until 2014), a squeaker for Mr. Trump would indicate that Ms. Clinton had been vanquished in a yuuuuuge landslide elsewhere.

Now, it is extremely unlikely that any one person's vote will rock even one state's electoral outcome. In the closest state presidential election of the last half-century—New Mexico (no, not Florida) in 2000—the final margin for Al Gore came to 366. And even that did not swing the national prize.

But set those slim odds of individual influence at the state level off to one (long-shot) side. Assuming that you live in a red or blue, and not a purple, state, you swing completely out of the loop. In its most recent election forecast, the prediction site FiveThirtyEight estimates that there is a 17.9 percent chance that Florida will decide the election (putting one of the candidates "over the top"). Next in line are Ohio and Pennsylvania, where the chances are 11.5 percent each, followed by Michigan at 8.7 percent and Wisconsin at 6.2 percent. When you account for North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Minnesota, Georgia, Nevada, and Iowa, you've eliminated all the states with as much as an estimated 2 percent chance to determine the outcome. Multiply that by the probability that one's own vote can throw one's state from Hillary to Donald or back, and the prospect that your vote will crown the next chief of state is neatly forecast as equal to 0.0.

This safe harbor protects 67 percent of U.S. population, that portion living beyond the aforementioned swing states. This logic is not lost on the general public, which tends to vote for third parties more often in "one-party" states.

Citizens realize that they are not trekking to the polls to cast the deciding national vote but to do their patriotic duty, taking pride in affixing an "I Voted!" sticker to their lapels and relishing the thought of canceling out some barbarian's vote (or their spouse's). But why not go commando and check the ballot for a person you'd actually prefer to see as president? In most states, the Electoral College makes this a guilt-free option.

Consequential outcomes from individual presidential votes are so unlikely that Americans cast their chief of state endorsements while investing far less in research about their choice than the investigative effort they sink to select a smartphone data plan or their next Pokemon Go venue. This is straightforward: Decisions that affect actual results generally invite more attention than those that do not. It is called "rational ignorance."

In another sense, it's liberating. Because your one tally will not change the nation's fate, you can afford to exercise your judgment worry-free. You are not at fault if Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton should win. Meanwhile, you will have indulged your conscience.

It is often said that voting third party is "throwing your vote away." It would be more accurate to say that living in a non-swing state is throwing your vote away. One tactic to recapture some modicum of vote value is to pad the total for an upstart candidate. Moreover, you might help (if modestly) to put the system on notice that the Big Two political party choices are being rejected. Even when the minor parties do not elect a president, they can thus wield power. The classic example is the Socialist Party, which garnered a paltry 880,000 votes in the 1932 election, barely 2 percent of the total cast, but over the course of the decade saw significant pieces of its platform co-opted by the New Deal. Within years, versions of the party's proposals for Social Security, a minimum wage, and large-scale public works were law.

In this year's campaign, I am insulated from liability by the Electoral College. And the presidential festivities, in my view, feature two highly undesirable major party candidates. The Founders have spared me from having to precisely calibrate my coefficient of disgust. Voting for Libertarians who have an exceedingly slim chance of victory will be the least complicated choice I will make—until Saturday's Pokemon Go selections are available.

Photo Credit: Jason Keisling

Thomas Winslow Hazlett is Hugh H. Macaulay Endowed Professor of Economics at Clemson University. His most recent book is The Political Spectrum: The Tumultuous Liberation of Wireless Technology, from Herbert Hoover to the Smart Phone (Yale University Press).

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  • Libertarian||

    After a couple months of vowing not to vote, and against my better judgement, I voted yesterday. I'm in Florida and voted Gary Johnson (though I did consider Castle). I didn't vote for Gary, per se, but voted for the party.

    I'm in a major swing state and I just "threw away" my vote -- the next best thing to not voting, I guess.

  • jester||

    I've been looking for someone to buy my vote. No takers yet. Should the price get higher or lower as the election nears? Discuss.

  • Jerryskids||

    It depends on how narrow Hillary's margin is in your locality. Hillary has a monopsony on the votes and she ain't paying much extra for a landslide.

  • The Fusionist||

    Selling your vote is a sucker's game - if you sell your vote based on the promise of some benefit in the future they'll break their promise as soon as it's convenient. But if you sell your vote in exchange for an immediate cash payoff, suddenly they'll treat you like a criminal!

    It's almost as if the only kind of vote-buying they want to be legal is the kind where they reserve the option of stiffing the bribee.

  • Libertarian||

    With secret ballots, I've never understood how vote buying worked. It may get a bit more prevalent now, though, with smart phone cameras.

  • UCrawford||

    With secret ballots, I've never understood how vote buying worked.

    It doesn't. It's just a way for gullible people to be tricked into voting for someone they don't agree with.

  • The Fusionist||

    Yay - someone here almost voted for Castle!

  • Hank Phillips||

    Your wisely invested vote will change laws with all the force of 6 to 36 votes wasted on the entrenched Kleptocracy. This is easy to calculate from the 1892 election, the 16th and 18th Amendment adoptions and the 2000 election campaign. To the Kleptocracy you have to have about half the votes to change the laws. Hence, the small party counts that passed an income tax (6x), made beer a felony (36x) or turned the Dems into a Carbon-tax Econazi party (5.5x) had the multiplied effect of 50% of the popular vote, for they sure as hell changed laws. The rest is fractions and proportions. I'll happily send you the spreadsheet and you can check it yourself.
    p.s. Thanks for that awesomely powerful vote!

  • jester||

    The coefficient of disgust. Is it dimensionless or scalar?

  • BigW||

    So was the prominent libertarian you were talking to who was voting for Hillary actually William Weld???

  • jester||

    I thought he said outspoken. (I'm not challenging your statement that Weld is a prominent libertarian. How could anyone? Actions are outspoken.)

  • Derp-o-Matic 5000||

    He also said "libertarian," so definitely not Weld

  • jester||

    Weld is a lifelong libertarian. He said so himself.

  • Grab 'em by the panocha||

    Lifelong douchebag is more like it.

  • Mauser||

    I voted for Johnson here in Ohio. I simply view it as voting on my principles. It is satisfactory to sit back and savor the thought that I gave the establishment the middle finger in addition to not supporting the two rather abhorrent beasts of the duopoly.

  • Silverleaf||

    Ditto here in Texas. The fact that at least 90% of voters will vote for one of the two major party candidates is a frightening reminder of the highway to Hell this country insists upon mindlessly traversing.

  • jester||

    I'm voting for Sheila Jackson-Lee for Congress in my ant-farm district. If I contribute to her 100% victory then I get to compare her to Kim Jong-un.
    Democracy: gotta love it!

  • Deli-bro||

    That's. . . actually brilliant.

  • bvandyke||

    That is really funny. But, there ain't anyway I could ever vote for her.

    I actually had a friend ask who I voted for - I said I will tell you my requirements and you tell who it was:
    1. Actually supports the Constitution
    2. Believes in smaller / limited Government
    3. Believes in a free market
    4. Believes in personal liberty and freedom

    He couldn't answer me, actually gave me blank stare.

  • Johnny B||

    Yes, I wrote my own name in, too.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The Texas LP and Travis County LP are not accepting PayPal donations. It's like we're trying to lose. Last cycle I ended up donating to LPs in other states to circumvent the suicidal policy.

  • AdamJ||

    I was impressed by the number of candidates they were able to muster. They usually have a decent amount, but seemed like more this time

  • Bubba Jones||

    My county in texas actually had a number of lib candidates. I was surprised.

  • Derp-o-Matic 5000||

    Voting for a candidate that you believe should not be president is throwing your vote away.

  • PurityDiluting||

    +1

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I'm not throwing my comment away here on a post about someone voting for a third party candidate and letting that awful main party candidate get elected.

  • jester||

    Get out the post!
    Rock the post!
    Motor-poster!
    Your post counts!
    I posted!

  • Junior Juniorson, III||

    "I'm pro-life and I post"

  • Derp-o-Matic 5000||

    POST OR DIE, MOTHERFUCKER

  • RBS||

    Shake them titties when you post bitch.

  • jester||

    The League of Women Posters finds your comment repulsive.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    But they can't resist a bad boy.

  • waffles||

    Whew, that was close. I almost didn't post.

  • Rockabilly||

    I will not hold my nose and waste my vote on Hillary Clinton, who is a bigger war monger than Dick Cheney and who has always supported the racist and un Constitutional war on drugs.

    In short, I will not hold my nose and waste my vote on the racist warmonger and sworn enemy of individual liberty, Hillary Clinton

  • Grand Moff Serious Man||

    Hell, vote third party just to spite the morons who feel entitled to your consent so they can run roughshod over your liberties.

    These people exist for both Team Red and Team Blue but mostly blue. They need their fantasy of a mandate from the people to justify ramming everything through by any means necessary.

  • Silverleaf||

    "They need their fantasy of a mandate from the people to justify ramming everything through by any means necessary."

    I don't recall there being much of a mandate from the people when they rammed Obamacare down our throats. Of course, I guess it all depends upon how one defines, "mandate" (i.e.-"They want it, but they're too stupid to realize it").

  • Ted S.||

    Elections have consequences.

  • Echo Chamber||

    Stealing elections have consequences.
    Al (felon votes matter) Franken was the deciding vote for Obamacare.
    Had his opponent won the recount, the Dems would have been 1 vote short.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Uncoerced markets work because prices--unlike votes wasted on an entrenched Kleptocracy--carry information. One reason spoiler votes are 6 to 36 times as hard-hitting as zombie votes is cancelling. After all, 50 million drooling platitudes divided by 50 million of the exact same idiotic drool equals one. If you don't want your kids to not be shot or jailed over weed, your home nationalized by the IRS, or your car stolen by state troopers exercising faith-based asset forfeiture, crash and depression, BOTH halves of the Kleptocracy are exactly alike. Both want the IRS, asset forfeiture looting, military crusades to attract Mohammedan terrorists, crashes, panics and taps on every phone. The only way to vote for DIFFERENT LAWS is to vote libertarian. Voting Green or CPUSA only presses the Dems toward communism, and voting Tea or Consta-too-shun only pushes the GOP further Klanward into National Socialism. Voting DemoGOP is jumping up and down yelling kill! kill! kill! But LP votes scream: repeal! decriminalize! reduce!

  • Jay Dubya||

    preach it

  • SQRLSY One||

    But!!!

    "... relishing the thought of canceling out some barbarian's vote (or their spouse's). " ... from the RTFA...

    Bro, we can have it BOTH ways! Up the ass, AND up our nose!!!

    'No, wut Ah meant to say was, we can slimslultaneously violate 1/2 of our spouse's vote ... Jane, you ignorant SLUT!!!!... AND 1/2 of the vote of a random barbarian Neanderthal!!! Do NOT limit yer VISION, Ah sez!!!!

  • Jerryskids||

    The problem with voting the lesser of two evils is that the candidate and the party doesn't know and doesn't care whether you're voting for him or against his opponent. The only way to vote against both of them is to vote against both of them. Hell, John McCain got 60 million votes and that's how you got Mitt Romney - 60 million people said McCain sucked ass but not as much ass as Obama and the GOP thought they heard 60 million people say President McCain sounded like a great idea.

  • Ted S.||

    The lesser of two evils is still evil.

  • jester||

    evil < EVIL
    GOOD > good
    Two completely innocuous terms lesser evil and greater good.

  • dave b.||

    Greater good is not remotely innocuous.

  • jester||

    and neither is lesser evil.

  • Hank Phillips||

    But EVIL/evil =1, GOOD/good=1. Furthermore, televangelists swear you can't have one without the other, so 1-EVIL=GOOD. In other words, your ballot can make things better if you don't waste it on murdering looters.

  • Silverleaf||

    The problem with voting for the lesser of two evils is that you, by definition, wind up getting progressively more evil with each election. Theoretically, you could eventually wind up with a nightmarish situation where you're asked to choose between a felonious hag and a pompous, arrogant, ass of a game show host, for instance.

  • DenverJ||

    That's crazy. It could never happen here.

  • Jerryskids||

    Damn, now I've depressed myself with the thought that our next President is going to be somebody that maybe only about 5% of the American people have actually expressed support for. 95% of them weren't eligible to vote, didn't vote, voted for somebody else, or voted against their opponent. But that 5% is going to be treated as a mandate.

  • SIV||

    Thomas Hazlett is credited with coining the word "feminazi"

  • jester||

    I thought feminazzi was some kind of pasta.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Who coined the term "fruit sushi"?

  • SugarFree||

    ENB mentioned that he was eating it; I suggested we make it his nickname.

  • Bob Meyer||

    In a heavily red or blue state the only vote that is not thrown away is a vote for a third party especially if the third party candidate covers the difference between the red and blue candidates. It won't affect this election but it will determine how the red and blue parties will choose their candidates for the next election.

    If a libertarian gets 5% of the vote in a state where the Democrats and Republicans are separated by less than 5% the libertarian will be blamed for tilting the results. However, when determining who to run in the next election the losing party (and possibly the winning party) will be moved towards a more pro-liberty position.

    The purpose of third parties has never been to win the present election but to move a major party towards the third party's positions. The Dems went full-on progressive after Ralph Nader drew a relatively tiny percentage of voters in a close election. If Johnson were to get 5% of the vote it would put Rand Paul and Justin Amash in the driver's seats. Unfortunately, Johnson will not even break 2% but that might still be enough.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Bob' only error is "blamed." Econazis got 5 times the vote spread in 2000, when half a percentage point separated the winning leech from the identical losing hookworm. So G. Waffen Bush became Chancellor of the Reich, the Prohibition/Republican coalition proceeded to ignore all things Green, and the Dems copied econazi planks into their own platform. In Dubya's second term his asset-forfeiture and AML policies set fire to the Reichsfanny and states began legalizing like it was 1933. The GOP thanked crossover Dem voters. The Dems... well... nobody cares what losers think. But the Dems did distance themselves from the Klan by having a duskier candidate next two elections. Than and the ruined economy got results.
    In 1892 the Dems were wet and frugal, the Republicans tax-and-spend looters and the 9% Populist voters were dry communists. The Dems squeaked to victory and rewarded the Populists by stealing their commie tax plank and keeping it. I thank the commies, christianofascists and econazis for providing illustrative examples to help explain the law-changing power of principled spoiler votes.

  • jester||

    I suppose there will be some rethinking in both parties after their control-freak candidate-anointing plans blew up in their faces.
    But I kinda doubt it.

  • Libertarian||

    I think a Trump victory will actually harm the R party quite a bit, and perhaps the D party a little. A Hillary victory on the other hand will strengthen both parties, because the R's will say that they're needed now, more than ever; and the D's will say, "mandate!"

  • Longtobefree||

    The democrats will claim a mandate regardless of the outcome

  • The Elite Elite||

    I sent in my ballot last weekend. Voted for Johnson while doing my best to ignore POS Weld's name being right next to Gary's.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I think the biggest threat to our liberty is Hillary Clinton winning despite everyone knowing she's a crook. She accepted money from foreign governments while she was Secretary of State. Her campaign paid operatives to instigate violence at Trump events. She was given a free pass by the FBI that was so egregious, the FBI director felt compelled to spill the beans on her to preempt his underlings from revolting against him.

    If Hillary manages to win an election and all the legitimacy that bestows--despite everyone knowing that she actively undermined and disregarded the rule of law--that will undermine the rule of law like nothing else could. People will stop depending on the rule of law to limit our rulers and protect their interests even more than before and start looking for strongmen that are more suited to their own preferences. Over and over again, throughout history, this is the manner in which republics are transformed into tyrannies.

    Throw your vote away if that's what it takes to express your preference for freedom, but make sure to use your vote or your refusal to vote to undermine support for Hillary Clinton. The question we face now is a bit like the one left to us by the Weimar republic. Their question was: "Should a democracy be allowed to vote itself out of existence?" The question before us is: "Can the rule of law survive popular support for a President who willfully disregards it?"

  • Junior Juniorson, III||

    If Hillary manages to win an election and all the legitimacy that bestows--despite everyone knowing that she actively undermined and disregarded the rule of law--that will undermine the rule of law like nothing else could. People will stop depending on the rule of law to limit our rulers and protect their interests even more than before and start looking for strongmen that are more suited to their own preferences. Over and over again, throughout history, this is the manner in which republics are transformed into tyrannies.

    This so very much, Ken.

  • jester||

    The rule of law already has plenty of tyrannical laws on its books. We just get more each election cycle.
    We'll just have to adapt.
    Who knows maybe someone will steal Hillary's identity.

  • Ken Shultz||

    There's a difference between tyrannical laws and popular support for disregarding the rule of law. In fact, it's popular support for disregarding the rule of law that transforms a republic into a tyranny.

    Once Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon and remained popular anyway, the tyrannical nature of his laws was beside the point. It was popular support for him that was the problem. They stabbed him with their steely knives, but they couldn't kill popular support for the idea of a strongman after that. The Senate continued to meet for another 600 years after Julius Caesar, but the only question that really mattered was who the next strongman would be.

    Bismark strangled the German republic in its cradle. He took his real power in the midst of a budget impasse. Bismark told the Treasury to collect such and such a tax, to spend it on this and that--all without consulting the Reichstag--and they did what they were told. Kulturkampf, civil liberties being disregarded, etc. were also problem--but the real problem started when Bismark's factions kept winning the legitimacy bestowed by elections despite ignoring the rule of law.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Chavez was dangerous because he was an authoritarian socialist, but the worst part of it was that he was an authoritarian socialist who won the legitimacy of elections--despite ignoring mocking the rule of law. Now the people of Venezuela want his successor removed from office--but they no longer trust the rule of law to protect them or their interests. Even the people who opposed Chavismo don't want to replace him with the rule of law. They're looking for another strongman who better suits their preferences.

    You see what I'm talking about?

    Any particular tyrannical law is an issue.

    A leader winning a popular election despite disregarding the rule of law is another issue entirely, and that's the one we're facing with Hilary Clinton.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Can the rule of law survive popular support for a President who willfully disregards it?"

    The correct answer is "no".

  • Hank Phillips||

    Superstitious prohibitionist fanaticism enacted by venal looters selected by secret ballot is hardly the "rule of law." It more closely resembles an entrenched Klanbake.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Accepting money from foreign governments while Secretary of State is ignoring the rule of law.

    Paying operatives to instigate violence at Trump events is making a mockery of the rule of law.

    Refusing to empanel a grand jury so that the FBI director feels it necessary to spill the beans and preempt a revolt among his own rank and file is ignoring the rule of law.

    Using FBI background check files to dig dirt up on your political enemies is ignoring the rule of law.

    Taking RTC money from a failed S&L by way of a loan to a bankrupt real estate investment company and diverting it through a partnership you set up into your husband's campaign fund is making a mockery of the rule of law.

    Accepting money from the Chinese government by way of Al Gore and the weirdos at the Hsi Lai Temple is ignoring the rule of law.

    Voting for someone everyone knows did these things--despite Hillary having ignored, undermined, and mocked the rule of law--is fundamentally different. It is effectively voting against the rule of law itself. It is effectively giving Hillary Clinton a mandate to ignore the rule of law.

  • jester||

    No one would ever do that. You have to be making that shit up.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Observe that shooting unarmed kids in the back then hiding behind a badge and cop unions didn't make the list. To God's Own Prohibitionist infiltrators, THAT is the embodiment of the rule of law. This has been GOP policy since Henry Virkula was murdered by customs agents in 1929.

  • Rational Exuberance||

    The excessive power of police unions and the causes of frequent use of deadly force by police are joint projects of Democrats and Republicans Relatively speaking, democrats probably bear more responsibility

  • Jerryskids||

    I'm not so much worried about Hillary getting elected because of what she might do to this country, but because of what Hillary getting elected shows has already been done to this country. It's sorta like worrying that the zombies infesting your kitchen might track mud on the floor - the fact that you've got zombies infesting your kitchen at all is enough of a problem to worry about. In a decent country, Hillary Clinton would be off in some little country hidey-hole, scuttling about the streets with her face covered every time she dares venture out in public lest being recognized attracts a swarm of the citizenry spitting on her, calling her names, pelting her with feces.

    Unfortunately, much the same goes for Trump. We're so desperate we're praying some fat-headed loud-mouthed side-show huckster saves us from Hillary? What's wrong with just walking up to Hillary and slapping her upside the head and telling her she needs to get the fuck out of here before we beat her to death with her own goddamn limbs?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Has anyone ever been elected President after having flaunted the rule of law like this before?

    Just because we've been trending towards the cliff for a long time doesn't mean we shouldn't resist the urge to jump off of it.

  • Derp-o-Matic 5000||

    Obama 2012

  • Ken Shultz||

    Can you be specific?

  • Derp-o-Matic 5000||

    Well, he murdered three American citizens.

  • Derp-o-Matic 5000||

    He also invaded Libya without congressional authorization

  • Hank Phillips||

    ^This is why we have to pay for their armed bodyguards for life.

  • Mark22||

    Few other Western countries pay for body guards for life. In few other Western countries do ex-presidents become as insanely rich as in the US.

    Perhaps if US presidents had to consider how much people will hate them for their actions and if the presidency doesn't become a stepping stone to a lifetime of privilege, government benefits, and wealth, it would cause them to behave more decently?

  • jester||

    I like the fuckers who advocate for State-sponsored gambling such as the lottery and decry income inequality. Those are totes with-it peeps.

  • DenverJ||

    The question we face now is a bit like the one left to us by the Weimar republic. Their question was: "Should a democracy be allowed to vote itself out of existence?"

    You know who else... oh... nevermind.

  • Rational Exuberance||

    Hitler didn't get enough votes by himself.

    It was Prelate Kaas and his Catholic Center Party that put the enabling act over the top and ended German democracy.

    German democracy was set up to keep power in the hands of the intellectual elite.... And I'm using that term loosely when referring to members of the clergy.

    So the answer is.... Don't have a European style democracy because they don't work. Even the Greeks already knew that.

  • DenverJ||

    The question we face now is a bit like the one left to us by the Weimar republic. Their question was: "Should a democracy be allowed to vote itself out of existence?"

    You know who else... oh... nevermind.

  • Raven Nation||

    you know who else

    Squirrels?

  • Cdr Lytton||

    You know who else phrased their assertions in the form of a question?

  • jester||

    The Riddler. Everyone knows that.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Hazlett glimpses some of the spoiler vote leverage effect, but less than the tip of an ice cube. How many votes made light beer a federal felony? The answer is a hair over two million votes wasted invested in 11 presidential campaigns at an average rate of 1.4% of the popular vote. The outcome conspicuously triggered the Crash once bankers and brokers realized fanatical prohibition enforcement was commencing the Great Depression. And what about the Communist Manifesto Income Tax? Shape-shifting looter parties morphed into the People's Party for almost 9% of the popular vote in 1892, when only anarchists wanted an income tax. That tax became law in just over a year, and the Dems copied it into their Bryanist platforms. For prohibition each spoiler vote was worth 36 in law-changing clout up to 1916. For Manifesto Plank 2, each looter vote in 1892 was worth 6 votes wasted on the entrenched gridlock. In the Y2k election the Greens rewrote the Dem platform and George W. Bush was able to use faith-based asset-forfeiture to confiscate homes and cause another Great Depression. A libertarian vote has 6 to 36 times the law-changing power of a wasted vote.

  • The Fusionist||

    Just as an aside, where did we get the term "Electoral College?"

    I don't think it's in the Constitution, which provides that the electors will meet and vote in their respective states, not as a large national body.

    When did the term start being used?

  • Raven Nation||

    According to an online etymology dictionary, it was first used in 1808. Not sure what the source/s was/were.

  • Johnny B||

    According to Wiki, James Wilson, a lawyer who was at the constitutional convention, came up with the idea and used the term.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Wilson

    see also

    http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_elec.html

    Thanks to Tom Hazlett -- a fine 3rd baseman in his day and still a respected scholar of the FCC -- for writing this!

  • Libertarian||

    People just love saying that "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result." Then they go to the polls and vote Republican or Democrat and have the nerve to tell me that I'm wasting my vote on a third party.

  • The Elite Elite||

    BUT THIS TIME IT'S DIFFERENT! MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION OF OUR LIFETIME!

  • waffles||

    Best. Election. Ever.

  • Ken Shultz||

    By certain criteria.

    I just wish Vince McMahon had moderated one of the debates.

  • Grab 'em by the panocha||

    I wish Vince McMahon had moderated one of the debates been one of the candidates.

    FTFY

  • kevrob||

    His couldn't get his wife elected to an open US Senate seat in CT. As for moderating, there was a COI. The Donald has WWE connections. http://www.wwe.com/superstars/donald-trump

  • Ken Shultz||

    I thought the best moment of 2012 was when the Romney campaign answered accusations that Mitt had strapped his dog to the roof of his car and driven across the country with evidence proving that Barack Obama had actually eaten dog while he was in Indonesia.

    In this manner, our emperors are chosen.

    But when's the next time we're gonna get audio tape of a pussy grabbing confession vs. an email from an email from a campaign manager suggesting that he ate a dish of blood, breast milk, and fresh semen?

    http://tinyurl.com/ju9hzuw

    You couldn't write this stuff into a movie. People would think it was too over the top.

  • Mark22||

    But when's the next time we're gonna get audio tape of a pussy grabbing confession

    Well, I'm pretty sure Hillary has grabbed Bill by his balls and squeezed hard, more than once. But I guess it's OK if you do it out of anger rather than lust.

  • IceTrey||

    I'm 100% positive Hillary Clinton will be the President this country deserves.

  • Juice||

    I'm really starting to wonder if she'll win now.

  • Calidissident||

    The last few weeks Trump has closed the gap enough that he has a realistic chance to win. I still think Hillary holds on, but he's got a shot. I think he wins Iowa and Ohio, and probably Maine's 2nd district. I think she takes Florida, NC, and NH narrowly, but these are pretty much tossups, and I wouldn't be surprised if Trump won them all.

    She's in better shape in the blue Midwest states (MI, WI, PA) and I think she holds onto them. The early vote in Nevada and Colorado is looking good for her (polls in Nevada have it as a tossup, but they've historically underestimated Democratic support there in the past as it's a hard state to poll) so I think she wins there too. If she wins the blue Midwest states, those two states, and all the other blue states, she can win even if she loses in the places mentioned in the first paragraph.

    At the end of the day, the most frustrating part about the aftermath of this election is going to be the supporters of the winner taking the election as proof that the country is totally behind their candidate, ideology, agenda, etc. And really, it's about who the country finds least loathsome and difficult to vote for. A stronger Democratic candidate would be crushing Trump, and a stronger Republican candidate would be beating Clinton easily as well.

  • IceTrey||

    He has no chance. The Electoral College favors the Dems. 11 of the 14 biggest states are Dem and is enough to win.

  • Calidissident||

    The electoral college isn't necessarily in favor of the Democrats this year. Despite having about a 3 point lead nationally in polling averages, Trump is winning in Ohio and Iowa, and North Carolina, Florida, and NH are essentially tossups. If he wins all of those states plus all the others Romney won, he just needs one state. 538 has the chances of Trump losing the popular vote but winning the electoral college as significantly higher than the opposite occurring for this reason.

  • IceTrey||

    The gamblers make better predictions and she's way ahead.

    https://electionbettingodds.com

  • R C Dean||

    If she wins, what the FBI does next will be very interesting indeed.

    And Obama. I think if she wins he grants her a full pardon, in the "move on" fashion.

    If he does, well, that's classic banana republic stuff.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Or Gerald Ford immunizes Richard Millstone Nixon... Oh wait! That's a bandana republican thing, nevermind.

  • Bubba Jones||

    And then we elected Carter.

  • jester||

    I saw the needle and the damage done. Sharing needles isn't smart.

  • Brian||

    If I was a low information independent voter, I think I'd assume more guilt on Clinton's part over emailgate by the way democrat talking heads all exploded in unison over Comey's announcement.

    Comedy's announcement seemed very vague uninteresting, otherwise.

  • jester||

    If you were Lo-Info you couldn't possibly be an independent.

  • UCrawford||

    Fun Constitutional Fact: Presidential pardons cannot stop or affect impeachment proceedings. If she gets pardoned, she can still be impeached and removed from office.

  • jester||

    No one is going to impeach the First Woman President of the United States. She didn't get this far without knowing where the bodies are buried. Seriously.

  • IceTrey||

    The President can't be impeached for any crime which occured prior to their election.

  • Rational Exuberance||

    They're just going to grab her by the peach, misogynists that they are.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Impeaching a newly elected president for what they did before taking office, things that were widely know well before people voted?

    That doesn't sound likely.

  • Mark22||

    So, in different words, instead of "throwing his vote away", your "libertarian-leaning friend" is going to vote for the corrupt, dishonest war-monger. Maybe the problem is that he is simply not a libertarian at all? Or maybe he is simply a fool.

  • jester||

    The lesson on two evils. I took notes. I'm ready for the quiz.

  • Rational Exuberance||

    I don't think the equation is balanced. Clinton's stated political program is awful compared to Trump's, and her actual record is as well. The only way you can justify voting for Clinton is to assume that she won't do what she is campaigning on and that she magically becomes competent after decades of incompetence.

    Trump is just a loudmouth at this point, and while he has less experience than Clinton, he also likely has less ambition.

  • kevrob||

    Which corrupt, dishonest war-monger? Trump's not a real non-interventionist.

    Now, if you'd have said proven war-monger, I'd be right there with you.

  • Juice||

    I throw my vote away every election. I've gotten the same results that I would have gotten had I gone to the polls, except that I still have that small amount of time for myself.

  • jester||

    In California, if you throw away your vote, you better make sure you do so in the properly color-coded bin. There's a fine for that. Y'know.

  • some guy||

    I just keep telling people: I refuse to vote for the lesser of two evil parties. Instead I'm voting to show all parties what they need to do to earn my vote next time around. I'm not voting to influence this election, but to influence every other election for the next 50 years or so.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Cthulhu 2016

  • jester||

    What's he polling right now? I forgot about him. Fucking pollster douchebags.

  • XM||

    I'm just trying to wrap my head around the fact that America is about to elect a candidate who's being investigated by the FBI for crimes concerning national security. To my knowledge, something like this has NEVER happened in modern American history.

    Trump certainly has legal problems of his own. If he wins, some of his accusers will sue him. He'll likely settle the Trump U lawsuit, cuz he ain't winning that. It'll be a circus for sure.

    But what happens if the FBI announces an indictment or reveals incriminating information a week after Clinton wins the election? That's uncharted territory. At that moment, America's president would have close to ZERO credibility in the eyes of the world. Many heads of state will delay meeting with her until the issue can be resolved.

    Would anyone vote for Leland Yee to keep Trump out of office? Because although Clinton hasn't been formally charged of any crime, but that's potentially the reality of the situation.

    There is actually preview of a Clinton admin going on in Korea. Their female president won a minor landslide few years ago but she's mired in scandal, one of which involves emails. Her approval rating is less than 10%. I can't imagine Angela Merkel being that popular in Germany at the moment. We might be stepping into some real trouble here.

  • Longtobefree||

    I have always voted for the candidate of the party whose platform is least offensive to my personal freedom. My personal philosophy rejects voting against rather than voting for. "voting for the person" rather than the party ignores the fact that the person cannot get to national office without selling their soul to a party. When voting for other than a major party, my vote helps all other parties with ballot access, and (possibly) future reporting by the press. So I will trudge to the poll Tuesday and pay the price of a constitutional republic.

  • jbsnc||

    Difficult voting this year. I am a sometime cheat and liar and tend not to want to vote for myself. On the other hand, I look at the likes of Trump and super trash such as Hillary and Bill and I don't look so bad. I may write in Palin or Bachmann.

  • daveski99||

    A candidate with ties to Putin's Russia, that has never uttered a bad word for the kleptocracy that is Russia is a huge red flag. Manafort, his former campaign manager was working in the Ukraine for 6 years and was the beast of Kiev's tennis partner! Several other Trump people have extensive ties. What ware Trump's financial ties? Where does Trump get loans after going bankrupt 5 times and stiffing his lenders, business partners and employees? Trump has never uttered a bad word about Russia, but feels NATO should be broken up, the EU should break up, Scotland should break from the UK.

    It is amazing that Trump should have such affinity to Russia, a country that has killed tens of thousands of Americans over the course of the cold war. He will not necessarily come to the defense of NATO countries in eastern Europe. Imagine what they think in Poland. The French in 1939 had made the guarantees to Poland. So Trump's words have shaken the alliance. Other allies in Asia are horrified. Will the US stand back and let our enemies dominate them.
    In comparison we have Hillary who on a corruption scale besides Trump is piker.

    Faced with Trump the choices are clear, and as a former Bill and Hillary hater I can offer up my library of anti-Clinton books from my days: here's one "Running in Place, How Bill Clinton Disappointed America". Time to wake up and smell the danger.

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