If you are like so many Utahns – especially those active in the LDS Church – you face an agonizing choice marking your presidential ballot in the upcoming election. There is one candidate you can’t trust (some of you even hate her)…There is another candidate you can’t stomach (many of you think he needs mental health therapy)…There is a Libertarian candidate who, once considered a strong contender in Utah, is slipping in the polls.
And there is independent conservative Evan McMullin. Only a blip on the screen one month ago, his quest to become not only a U.S. President but also Stake President-In-Chief, has him hovering closely behind the major party candidates in Utah.
It is questionable whether enough Utahns will actually stray from the tried-and-true political parties to give McMullin the state’s six electoral votes. The vast majority of Utah voters still don’t know who he is or anything about his political views.
But if he continues to gain strength with voters disappointed by the other choices, is a vote for McMullin a “wasted” vote?
Of course not!
In the first place, Utah’s electoral votes are not going to decide the election, and McMullin is not moving to the White House. Donald Trump’s views on women are shifting votes of college-educated females and males into the Hillary column. Even without the sexual assault fallout and his mocking of his accusers’ looks (and Hillary’s appearance is fair game as well), Trump’s only real chance of winning the election is pinned to old white guys drinking beer, not the prize demographic you want to win public office.
Advance voting shows positive signs for Hillary Clinton in North Carolina and Florida, whereas Trump is showing strength in Iowa and Ohio. To win, Trump has to “run the board” on the other swing states, and only a dismal turnout of minority voters will make the election competitive.
Who cares if Trump wins Utah and its six electoral votes? He is an acquired taste for a rather small segment of Americans and surveys show more than 70 percent of Utah voters want an air sickness bag whenever he opens his mouth. For those voters, a vote for McMullin is a refreshing way of participating in the election and taking a principled stand. By analyzing candidates and their positions, a voter is never “throwing his/her vote away”. In fact, voting a “straight party ticket” even though you don’t know much about candidates is the worst example of lazy voting.
Utahns are not alone in shaking their heads over this election. The American Psychological Association announced last week that more than half of Americans say the 2016 election is a major source of stress.
Voting for a third party, an independent like McMullin or even writing in Mitt Romney’s name might even relieve stress. Voters can say, “Don’t blame me! I voted my conscience!” And that’s better than voting for an aging pervert or a woman you mistrust.