Why Choose a Third Party


Throughout the history of the United States we have had dozens of parties that have elected candidates to office, including presidents from five different parties:

  • Democratic-Republican Party
  • Whig Party
  • Democratic Party
  • Republican Party
  • Federalist Party

The concept of a “third party” only applies if you divorce yourself from your nation’s history. Having a “third party” inherently means there is a “first party” and a “second party.” Obviously there are no such things – there are only parties and independent candidates.

By extension, why would you vote for a party or candidate who doesn’t represent your values? If there is a party or candidate that captivates you with their positions, then why wouldn’t you vote for that party?

This election we’re hearing a lot about the “lesser of two evils,” when in fact at the time of this writing there are seven candidates running for president of the United States whose only obstacle to attaining this office is getting enough votes.

You don’t want to vote for a spoiler? When talking about spoilers you might as well say Obama was a spoiler for Romney in 2012, or Bush was a Spoiler for Gore in 2000. Spoilers only exist if you allow the Democrats and Republicans to have a monopoly on your vote. As much as they might like to, they don’t.

Third Party Ballot Access

Every state has its own rules for getting a name on the ballot as a presidential candidate. Usually this means collecting a certain number of petition signatures by a certain date. Other ballot qualification rules might include a minimum percentage of the vote in the most recent election, payment of a large fee, having a minimum number of registered voters who are members of the party, and more.

Colorado and Louisiana have some of the most lenient laws permitting candidates to run for president; you’ll see most third party candidates on the ballot in these states.

By contrast, Oklahoma has one of the toughest ballot access laws in the nation. To qualify, new candidates must get petition signatures equal to three percent of the total number of Oklahomans who voted in the last presidential election. That’s why at the time of this writing only three parties have managed to get their presidential candidates on the ballot here.

If you’re interested in voting for a third party candidate, check their website and look for the “ballot access” section. This will tell you how you can vote for them in your state.

Photo credits: Republican Party logo courtesy Republican Party (United States), public domain | Democratic Party Logo fair use | Aurochs graphic courtesy Teodoro Ghisi, public domain


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