WXMI — As we prepare to head out to the polls next Tuesday, something to consider — Michigan has candidates from six different political parties on the ballot this time around.
In addition to Democrats and Republicans, Michigan voters will have to choose between the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, the Taxpayers Party and the Natural Law Party.
Third party candidates in Michigan typically receive about three percent of the vote in the top elections, such as the race for governor, secretary of state and attorney general.
"The problem for third party candidates, and third parties in general, is the cost and the work to get on a ballot where the rules have been set by the two [major] political parties." explained Michael McDaniel, constitutional law professor at WMU-Cooley Law.
"Then the other problem they have is getting a candidate to gain votes where the average voter might say, well, it's the lesser of two evils time... You know, I really liked this third party candidate but they don't have an opportunity to get elected."
Even though these candidates don't have a serious shot at receiving the votes they need to win, candidates from the two major parties will be paying attention to how the new ideas they bring to the table are received by potential voters.
"We look at some of their ideas as being outside the mainstream, or even being crackpot ideas, and maybe some of them are... but maybe they're just a little bit ahead of the curve," McDaniel said.
“When the two major parties see that a third party candidate, who has advocated a certain position, has some success, has a blip in the number of votes... then they'll say, Wow, maybe that's an issue we've got to take a greater look at, because that seems to resonate with the voters."
The Libertarian Party advocated for privatization of government for years before Republicans embraced it during the Ronald Reagan years. They also pushed a platform of legalizing cannabis for decades prior to it being picked up by mainstream political candidates.
The Green Party, as McDaniel explained, "was ahead of the curve on same-sex marriage. advocating for same sex marriage, which was then picked up by the Democrats, and by some Republicans.”
You can find information for all races on the state of Michigan's website HERE.