By Nicole Belair, Staff Writer
In an unpredictable turn of events, we now know that America has elected Donald Trump as our president.
Since the news broke early last Wednesday morning, my Facebook and Twitter news feeds have been full of sadness, disappointment, and fear. I suspect this is how it will be for weeks and months to come.
Not only are people afraid of decisions that Trump may make after he is sworn in, but a vast majority are also criticizing those who voted for a third-party candidate or wrote in someone who didn’t make the ballot. Sure, maybe writing in “Harambe” wasn’t exactly honoring your civic duty, but there are plenty of reasons why people might have chosen not to vote for Clinton or Trump.
After reading such criticism on social media, I have been hesitant to tell people that I decided not to vote Democrat or Republican in the presidential race.
It’s not that I didn’t care, or that I wanted to throw my vote away. Especially in Massachusetts, a renowned “blue state,” my singular vote would not have been the deciding factor.
This was the first presidential election I have been able to vote in, and it was a much harder decision than I had ever anticipated. My absentee ballot sat on my kitchen counter for at least two weeks before I was finally able to fill in a bubble.
For a while, I almost wanted to vote for Hillary Clinton. I thought that if I couldn’t vote for Bernie Sanders, I wanted to be “#WithHer.” I certainly did not want to be with Trump, at least.
I personally could not find one reason to side with that racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQ, loose cannon of a man. But, hey, that’s just me.
With the deadline for sending in my ballot fast approaching, I finally had to make a decision that I could live with. Even though he wasn’t a registered write-in candidate in Massachusetts, I ultimately wrote in Bernie Sanders.
When I picture talking to my future grandchildren about this monumental election, I want to be able to justify my decision and say that I was not responsible for voting either of them into office.
I did my research. I watched the debates. I’m not a misinformed voter, rebelling against the system, or purposely throwing away a vote.
Chad Remy, a sophomore hospitality and tourism management major at UMass Amherst, explained it well in a Facebook post. “When you say that people who voted third party let down this nation, I want you to think of how you’re pushing your beliefs on them,” he stated. “I’m sure there’s a reason they didn’t vote for Hillary or Trump. They also could have supported the third-party because they believed that they were the most suitable option.”
It’s not like we live in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, or Pennsylvania where the race was too close to call for hours. In that case, every single vote absolutely mattered. But in a liberal state like Massachusetts, I knew I was at liberty to vote for who I could justify, someone other than Clinton or Trump.
I don’t think third-party or write-in votes cost Hillary the election. I think what cost her the election was the fact that less than half of registered voters actually went out and voted. Especially in those key swing states, more votes could have really made the difference. An outdated system of electoral votes that disregards the popular vote may have cost her the election. The fact that neither candidate was a great choice to begin with may have cost her the election.
My singular vote for Bernie Sanders did not.