Today’s guest post is from friend of the blog and Mormon Matters alum Bruce Nielson.
I’ve seen a lot of Facebook posts from my Utah Republican friends, those who are not flocking to Hillary, attacking those who are protesting Trump by voting for McMullin. The main charge is that a vote for McMullin is equivalent to a vote for Hillary Clinton. Other charges include that Mormons are idiots because they only vote for white Mormon males.  I’ve also seen quite a few attacks on how McMullin isn’t ready for the presidency, isn’t qualified, or is part of some democrat conspiracy to put Hillary on a throne, etc. 
It’s good to make informed decisions, so I’m going to quickly explain how the political process works mathematically and then it becomes easy to work out if these claims are true and to come up with your best voting decisions.
First, the US electoral college is a winner-take-all / majority wins system. You have to get 270 votes to win and if no one gets 270 votes, the House of Reps get to pick the president instead of the electoral college. So because this is the case, if Utah ends up voting for McMullin and giving him their electoral votes this in no way helps Hillary.
Stop and do the math and you’ll see why this is the case. What it does is it removes some of the votes from the pool, so it harder to get to 270. It does not mean it makes it easier for Hillary to win. The simple truth is that it doesn’t help Hillary at all unless you believe Utah going McMullin would actually throw the election to the House of Reps and the House would likely pick her over Trump. Give that congress is majority Republican right now, that simply is not going to happen, period. So there is simply no realistic case at all in which Utah going McMullin would in some sense be a vote for Hillary.
You might now be wondering why people always say that if you vote for a third party candidate, you’re giving your vote to the candidates furthest from your view. Am I saying that everyone that says this is wrong?
Actually, no. You see, usually when you have a third-party candidate, they don’t actually win any electoral votes at all. They simply steal votes from one of the other two candidates. Worse yet, they steal votes from the candidate next closest to them. So, for example, Ross Perot primarily stole votes from George Bush, not Bill Clinton, thereby putting Bill Clinton into office. So, yes, in fact a vote for Ross Perot was really a vote for Bill Clinton, exactly like people claim.
What those mad at McMullin don’t get is that he’s on his way to actually winning Utah which is a total and complete mathematical game changer.
The issue here is that to win a state is not based on a majority vote, but merely a plurality vote. So let’s say Hillary gets 26% of Utah and McMullin and Trump get 25% each. (With the rest going to various other candidates.) In such a case, Hillary takes Utah and gets all the electoral votes. In this case, yes a vote for McMullin is in fact quite literally a vote for Hillary Clinton.
However, if McMullin actually takes Utah then he gets the electoral votes, and therefore a vote for McMullin is not a vote for Hillary.
Now, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend Trump had 264 votes in the EC and had Utah voted Trump, he’d have won. What then? Well in that case, neither Trump nor Hillary gets 270 votes and the election goes to the Republican controlled House, which means Trump wins. So in this case, a vote for McMullin is actually equivalent to a vote for Trump. 
So for those of you that are thinking of going McMullin because you feel Trump is unacceptable but hate the idea you might be helping Hillary setup a generational liberal court, here is what you need to do to be able to have your cake and eat it too. 
Check the polls before you vote. If McMullin is going to win Utah most likely–and you don’t want Hillary to win–then vote for McMullin. Your vote will not actually be helping Hillary at all. The worst-case scenario then is that you’re effectively still voting for Trump, but out of protest you sent a message to the GOP by helping Utah given its votes to someone else instead. Political statements like this should not be overlooked. If Utah fails to give its votes to Trump, a historical event like this will likely send shock waves through the Republican Party, and might even cause an incumbent “President Trump” to lose the Republican nomination in 4 years. So in such a case, a vote for McMullin is only sort of a vote for Trump but is also a strong statement that the Republicans need to shape up.
However, if on voting day it looks like McMullin isn’t going to win Utah, then stay home and don’t vote and Trump will win Utah. I know, I know, we have a civic duty to vote, and only bad people don’t vote. That’s all total crap of course. Staying home and not voting is a perfectly legitimate political move in some cases. This might be one of them.  In that case, you won’t be helping anyone either way.
However, if on the day of the election it’s looking like Hillary has a realistic chance of actually taking Utah, then all bets are off. Go vote your conscience between what I and many others consider to be the two worst choices in American history. 
 You know, like Romney… And… well, I can’t think of any other examples…
 This could only be said by people who so completely don’t understand what McMullin is doing that they sincerely think people voting for him are trying to win. Since no one – not even McMullin – believes he could ever win, then *obviously* his qualifications don’t matter at all. Qualifications are only relevant for candidates that have a chance of winning. McMullin is a protest vote — plain and simple.
 This is the key point people claiming a vote for McMullin is a vote for Hillary are not understanding.
 If you want to, that is. I’m not advising people how to vote.
 Low voter turn out is also a messages, though granted no where near as strong as neither Trump nor Hillary taking Utah.
 Side Note: The winner-take-all / majority wins system is why we have a two party and only two party system. Since voting for a third party is really (in most cases) a vote for the party furthest from your views, obviously there is strong political incentive for two of the parties – the ones closest ideologically – to merge so they have any chance at all of winning the presidency.
Also, it’s helpful to note that there are other forms of democracy that are not winner-take-all that create multi-party systems. But these are horrific aberrations of democracy that lack all the good parts. For example, such systems favor the *third largest* party. Think about this mathematically and you’ll see why. The two largest parties battle to be either #1 or #2. But to form an actual government, they need a majority support in the legislature, so they have to make deals and compromises with the next largest party that isn’t their main competitor (i.e. third largest). But since no matter who wins the #1 spot they’ll both have to make a deal with the third largest party, you’re essentially creating a permanent government largely controlled by the 3rd largest party — and with no way to ever vote them out of office. Are you so sure you really want a multi-party system instead of a two-party system?