I have been told that voting for independent and third-party candidates who are not showing well in the polls is “throwing your vote away.” If you don’t vote for the person who the party elites, big-dollar interests or people who consider themselves the intellectually elite want you to, your vote is wasted.

I contend that voting for someone who stands for causes you believe in is not throwing your vote away. I would say that voting for someone who doesn’t stand for your beliefs is throwing your vote away.

Was this the case with those who voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary? I think not. His campaign was the catalyst for the start of the democratic socialist movement that several candidates running for local, state and national positions this year espouse. The same can be said of the far-right candidates who the tea party inspired.

When the parties force candidates out of races through intimidation, you have to wonder where our free-election system has gone. Are they doing this for the betterment of our country, or because the big money wants a candidate that they can have more influence with?

Lastly, did those who voted for Hillary Clinton in the last presidential election throw their vote away? After all, she didn’t win. My candidate didn’t win, either, but I was told that I threw my vote away.

Kent Willette