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Voting Conscience


In evangelical circles, we typically instruct people to “vote their conscience,” avoiding making political recommendations and encouraging people to explore the issues and vote for a candidate based on their values, morals, and ethics. What do we do when we cannot conscientiously support either major party candidate?  My solution was to vote for a write-in candidate. I understand the arguments against voting third party or write-in, and I would have argued them myself in past elections:

  • “A third party vote is a vote for (fill-in-the-blank with the opposing party’s candidate).” If I were considering voting for one major party candidate over the other but chose to go with a write-in instead, that would be valid.
  • “Vote the party not the person.” Also valid if I aligned myself with either party, but I don’t. According to ISideWith.com, I lean toward one party over the other, but I’ve always voted person over party, and smothering my conscience in this election to vote party seems to be the worst possible time.
  • “Vote for the lesser of two evils.” Pragmatism would suggest voting for the least offensive major party candidate because a third party vote won’t accomplish anything. I’ve never been much of a pragmatist, and pragmatism and conscience don’t often make good bedfellows.
  • “When in doubt, vote (fill-in-the-blank with your preferred single issue).” In conservative circles the single issue is overwhelmingly to vote pro-life, but other groups identify single issues as well. Supreme court appointments could fall into this category. I can’t restrict my conscience to any single issue, even though it may be significant and serve to swing my opinion in most cases. I also can’t in good conscience overlook all of the other issues and flaws of a particular candidate and endorse them because they happen to nod toward a favorite single issue or promise conservative appointments.

There are other arguments, of course, and I don’t expect that I will ever align completely with any candidate. Will I vote third party again? I don’t know. Will my vote make a difference? Can I pat myself on the back for making a stand, however small and insignificant? Probably not. Will I end up contributing to the election of the greater of two evils? In this election, I can’t say which major party candidate that would be. I’m sure I will be dismissed by both major party supporters as a misguided idealist, and I am (an idealist at least, although not misguided I hope). If I’m going to exercise my right to vote, which I believe we all should, then I’m going to stick to my conscience and vote for the most qualified candidate that I believe aligns best with my matrix of competence, character, and issues.

My confidence is in God’s control and sovereignty, and regardless of the outcome, I am reminded of His truth and my hope in Christ, which gives me the courage to vote my conscience:

  • The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will. (Proverbs 21:1)
  • The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  (Psalm 27:1)
  • First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
  • Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
  • Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Conrad

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