I really dislike the "wasted vote" narrative. Too many people don't vote because they think their vote doesn't count, so telling someone that they are "wasting" their vote by not voting the way you think they should vote isn't helpful. Why would they even bother to get out and vote?
If I vote my conscience, for something I believe in, but the candidate I choose doesn't win, my vote isn't wasted. I have still cast a ballot based on my beliefs.
Don't go down the "a vote for x is really a vote for y" spiral. A vote for x is a vote for x.
And besides, most of the time avoidance of so-called vote-wasting comes organically. That's why people who might vote NDP elsewhere might opt for the Liberals in Don Valley West, or why people who might vote Conservative elsewhere might opt for the Liberals in Toronto-Danforth. Or why except in Guelph-like circumstances, "gee, I'd like to vote Green, but..." is universal. One doesn't have to spray "don't waste your vote" as dogma--look, if you want to remedy that, change the electoral system from FPTP rather than wishing certain parties would just drop off the radar, amalgamate into one another or into a "primary" party, as if any system that's not strictly binary a la the US is unfair.
And by treating elections as *simply* about choosing a winner, the "don't waste your vote" approach totally disregards the deeper barometric and statistical usefulness of elections--look, electoral statistics on a poll-by-poll granular basis are fascinating, and even when it comes to the so-called "wasted" votes for non-winning or no-chance parties or candidates. They're the sort of stuff that serve as guidelines for future campaigns and approaches--or even extra-electoral purposes related to urbanism, social anthropology, etc.
Look, if it were about avoiding wasting votes, let's take this example from the last federal election.
Conservative 47,552 80.91%
Liberal 5,505 9.37%
NDP 3,844 6.54%
Green 1,868 3.18%
So, if you don't want to waste votes...everybody vote Conservative, and that's that.
Or at least, unite the left so that it's 19.09%.
So, 'fess up. You don't give an eff about voting statistics, as long as your side wins.
But you see, comprehensively *comprehending* said stats allows you to formulate a strategy. It could be one to win; or if winning's not in the cards, to "lose smartly". And most of all, to comprehend the electoral lay of the land, the poll-by-poll subtleties of the turf you're running in. And it doesn't even matter which side you're on, in the end.
With such comprehension, it can all become the electoral equivalent of the Jane Jacobs "sidewalk ballet". Reduce it to a strict strategic binary, and the ballet becomes nothing but a dull Frankenstein-monster clomp-clomp.
And such all-around comprehension allows you to "know thy enemy". To know the weak spots, and how to target them; and how to plant seeds to "grow" your side in so-called enemy turf. And remember: it's not just about growing your side, it's also about subtracting from *their* side. (Unfortunately, the silo-ized nature of today's politics and culture has allowed a lot of that subtraction ability to atrophy.)
That's why elections are fascinating creatures, even when they shake out "strategically".
And also...may I say this, but a lot of this talk about not-wasting-one's-vote seems to me like pussyfooting around a more forthright kind of support. So, if you're voting Liberal because you feel Liberal is the best choice--let it stand at that. You don't even *have* to excuse yourself with this don't-want-to-waste-your-vote gobbledygook; it makes you look unnecessarily guilty about your support. But don't knock those who *do* opt to so-called "waste their vote", either; again, once one "comprehends the stats", even a distant third or fourth can take on a life beyond flat loserdom...