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After months and months of hearing this or that on both sides of the campaign, election day is finally upon us — for better or for worse. And it is our duty to vote.This country was founded as a democratic republic so that the citizens could have a say in their nation’s actions and leaders. Yet many are stating their disapproval of the system in a much more public way, through a harmful tactic known as protest voting. Protest voting occurs when voters consciously decide to vote outside of traditional party lines. This means that instead of voting for either Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton or Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in this election, voters take a third stance by voting outside of major party lines. Many of these protest ballots are a result of dissatisfaction with party politics, especially if voters feel like they have been wronged by America’s political system. This often substantiates the existence of third-party candidates. Prominent third-party candidates in this election are Libertarian candidate Gov. Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Both of these politicians have garnered considerable clout in this election because of the polarizing nature of the major party candidates are. Despite their increasing popularity, third-party candidates (or blank ballots) do not help our country in any way. Protest voting is harmful to the democratic process in a number of ways. Its most obvious impact is that it takes away votes from the major party candidates. While those who vote third-party are aiming to reduce the number of votes for one of the candidates, they also throw away their support for the other candidate. One of the most famous examples of the effect of third-party voting is Ralph Nader’s role in the 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Though Nader won maybe 3 percent of the popular vote, he was the deciding factor in the close competition. Another classic example of the third party failing is the 1992 election, where President George H.W. Bush was running for a second term against Democratic candidate Bill Clinton and Independent candidate Ross Perot. Though Perot was reportedly leading in many states, he did not get a single electoral vote. This is because he was merely a distraction; his votes were so spread out across the United States that he took away from the votes for either Bush or Clinton without earning himself a true stake in the race. This is likely what will happen with the third-party candidates in the 2016 presidential election, especially because there are multiple. The Washington Post says it best: “By withholding a vote from whoever [voters] perceive as the lesser of two evils,” they are practically voting for the candidate they are trying to avoid. Moreover, the United States is not set up to support third-party candidates. The electoral system guarantees this in its winner-takes-all philosophy. Most of the states are drawn this way, and after everyone votes, the candidate with the most votes gets all of the electoral votes. Third-party candidates will never achieve this. They cannot accumulate the minimum number of votes to ensure an electoral win. Many of the candidates and parties are unqualified, and no one has ever won a presidential election outside of the Democrats and Republicans. For example, the Green Party, the party Stein is representing, has never had a single representative in Congress, meaning it has never won an election. Former President Theodore Roosevelt ran for the position again as an outsider, against the man he chose to succeed him, and his campaign under the Progressive Party drove him to second place — ultimately losing the election. This is the closest America has ever come to nominating a third-party president, and he only got that far because he had already served as commander-in-chief before as a major party candidate.Protest voting ends up doing more harm than good. By not voting completely for a major party, the voter trying to protest the system or the candidates creates a system where votes count for more than they should — directly going against what our founding fathers created with an electoral system. Voting for a major party candidate will, in fact, create a more cohesive election and, with any luck, a more cohesive race in four years.Shweta Tatkar is a junior majoring in global health. “Point/Counterpoint” runs Wednesdays.