A couple of weeks ago, we ran an op-ed from Durham resident Frank Hyman about why voters should maybe skip casting a ballot for third-party candidates this election cycle.

Reader JANIE EKERE, a volunteer with Green Party candidate Matt Hoh’s U.S. Senate campaign, took issue with Hyman’s points and wrote us the following email:

[The op-ed] explicitly discouraged potential voters from supporting the Green Party, with no regard as to whether our platform aligned with voters’ values. We believe that this is not only unfair to our campaign, but that it ultimately does a disservice to voters.

As members of the Green Party, we believe that this op-ed unfairly and uncritically casts us as responsible for helping Republicans take office. It makes no mention of the role of the Electoral College in either the 2000 or 2016 presidential election, placing the blame for Bush and Trump’s victories solely on the mere presence of Green candidates. It also neglects to mention that Greens have long run campaigns at the local level in various states, but we are required to run for races like governor, U.S. Senate, and president in order to maintain ballot access and to have enough resources to reach voters effectively.

The op-ed also characterizes our supporters as simply “making a statement,” or “just helping Republicans.” This suggests that their support for us is thoughtless or pointless. As a party that encourages all voters to vote according to their beliefs and their values, this kind of attitude comes across as disrespectful and counterproductive to the practice of democracy. It’s a myth that all Green voters are bound to vote for Democrats if there’s no Green option on the ballot. In 2016, a CBS report on exit polls showed that 61% of Jill Stein voters said they would have abstained from voting for President if they didn’t have the choice to vote for her. We still have a large portion of the population that doesn’t vote, not because they’re apathetic, but because they feel alienated from the political process and don’t believe there are candidates to vote for who truly represent their interests.

Having Green Party candidates on the ballot provides the public with the opportunity to vote for candidates who reflect their values. That choice is vital to a healthy and vibrant democracy.

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