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Even if you can't vote for your chosen third-party or independent candidates, it's worth perusing their campaign platforms.

A guide to third parties 

click to enlarge The Libertarian Party pin is real (top), the rest are interpreted by V.C. Rogers (descending order): Constitution Party; Green Party; Socialist Party USA; Independent; Modern Whigs, which recently started an N.C. chapter
  • The Libertarian Party pin is real (top), the rest are interpreted by V.C. Rogers (descending order): Constitution Party; Green Party; Socialist Party USA; Independent; Modern Whigs, which recently started an N.C. chapter

The Boston Tea Party's time-traveling slogan is "Party like it's 1773!" (OK, but only if women, Native Americans and blacks have equal rights and everyone can receive the proper immunizations.) Teetotaler Gene Amondson, an Alaskan evangelist, is running for the nation's top job on the Prohibition Party. And Alan Keyes, who left the GOP, was snubbed by the Constitution Party and is now running as an America's Independent. Staunchly anti-abortion, Keyes said in regards to his failure to secure the Constitution Party's nomination that he represents, in political terms, an aborted fetus: "You're invited in, but they kill you."

In North Carolina, you can cast your ballot for none of these people, not even as write-ins or protest votes. Because of the state's restrictive access laws, candidates from only three parties are listed on the ballot: Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians—the latter of which gathered enough valid signatures this year to earn a place on the ballot.

However, you may vote for third-party candidates who collected 500 valid signatures by the deadline and thus qualified for write-in status—make sure there's something to write with in the voting booth: Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party, Brian Moore of the Socialist Party USA and Ralph Nader, an independent.

Now, compare our scenario to Colorado's: According to Ballot Access News, the Rocky Mountain State is listing 16 presidential candidates on its ballot, including the Objectivist, Pacifist and Heartquake Parties. Throughout the U.S., there are dozens more independent candidates, including North Carolina's Rob Jorgensen of New Bern (rcjorgensen2008.com), who is running for president on a pro-Switzerland platform that espouses Operation Vidal Onion to protect America from another terrorist attack.

Even if you can't vote for your chosen third-party or independent candidates, it's worth perusing their campaign platforms. Here are many of the 2008 presidential/ vice presidential tickets and their Web sites:

Libertarian: Bob Barr, Wayne Root • lp.org

Constitution: Chuck Baldwin, Darrell Castle • constitutionparty.org

Green: Cynthia McKinney, Rosa Clemente • gp.org

Socialist Party USA: Brian Moore, Stewart Alexander • sp-usa.org

Socialism and Liberation: Gloria LaRiva, Eugene Puryear • pslweb.org

Boston Tea/ Personal Choice: Charles Jay, Tom Knapp • bostontea.us

Socialist Workers: Roger Calero, Alyson Kennedy • themilitant.com (not official party site, but reflects the party platform)

Prohibition: Gene Amondson, Leroy Pletten • prohibition.org

Independent: Ralph Nader, Matt Gonzalez • votenader.org

America's Independent: Alan Keyes, Wiley Drake • selfgovernment.us

Reform: Ted Weill, Frank McEnulty • reformpa.web.aplus.net

A good resource on third parties is The Independent Political Report, independentpoliticalreport.com, and the Web site politics1.com/p2008.htm. Project VoteSmart lists platforms, voting records and results of political courage tests for national and state candidates at votesmart.org.

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