Third party votes and ballot measures


Just a couple of quick notes on the aftermath of election day.

1. Minutes after I woke up from a nap and before I tuned in to the election coverage last night, my brother messaged me and asked if I could let him know when Florida was called. I hadn’t planned on staying glued to the news, but I agreed and just searched for everything tagged Florida on Twitter, and from that point on I was transfixed. One thing I noticed was the number of tweets from disappointed Democrats to the effect that if Trump wins the state, that shows that all the third party votes were wasted. But people who voted third party can make the same (not very good!) point about everyone who wanted to vote third party but settled for Clinton instead. The idea that third party votes were somehow more wasteful than votes for Clinton only makes sense if voting for Clinton was more worthwhile independently of her likelihood of winning. But that’s exactly what third party supporters deny. So this particular argument for voting Democrat is either invalid or question-begging; it doesn’t work unless the claim that the balance of reasons favours voting Democrat is included as a premise. Whether or not that claim is true, third party supporters are right to reject the argument.

2. While the result in the national general election was about as bad as possible, workers did pretty well with state ballot measures. Five minimum wage related measures were on state ballots. In Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington, voters approved substantial increases in the minimum wage. In Arizona, the new minimum wage law also establishes a right to paid sick leave. In South Dakota, voters overwhelmingly defeated a decrease in the minimum wage for workers under the age of 18. In Virginia, voters blocked an attempt to entrench the state’s anti-union “right to work” law in the state constitution.


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