For the past few weeks we’ve been hearing from the Trump camp that this election is being rigged in favor of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party. He claims that everyone from the mainstream media to leaders in his own party are conspiring to keep him from winning the election. Recent polls suggest that the race is tightening between the two main candidates and that it has swayed back and forth throughout the last several months.

But, to be sure, it could be argued that the election is, indeed, rigged. How? Well, did you know that when Minnesotans go to the polls to vote on November 8, there will be nine different presidential/vice presidential choices for you to vote for? Yep, NINE!

Each represents a different political party. Sure, some may not seem overly legitimate. (Really, there’s a ‘Legalize Marijuana Now’ party?) Still, others run the gamut of the political spectrum from liberal to conservative and various points in between.

How many of those nine presidential candidates have you even heard of, less than a week before the election? Many of you have maybe only heard of the two main candidates. Others have possibly heard of three or four of them. Yet only two candidates got to speak at the national debates. Only two candidates received federal funding. Only two candidates are at the top of most people's minds.

But why? If they are on the ballot, why are they not all given a voice? In the Democratic and Republican primaries, those who were polling at the bottom of the field were given a chance to speak, even if some of them had to do so at the debating equivalent of the ‘kid’s table.’ So, why aren’t all the candidates given equal air time for the general election?

It turns out that in order for a political party to be officially recognized and therefore, eligible for federal funding, that party needs to get at least 5% of the popular vote in the election before. It's a bit of a conundrum for those third parties under the current system. If they can't get the national attention and funding that the two main parties get, how are they supposed to get 5% or more of the vote? But if they can't get 5% or more of the vote, how can they get that national attention and funding? Does that sound rigged to you?

Those of you who don’t want to vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, but who have been told in the past that voting for a third party is just “wasting your vote,” that is simply not true. For people who are tired of the current political system, could the best way to try to affect change be to vote for someone other than Clinton or Trump?

I'm not going to tell anybody who to vote for. I'm just trying to make sure that you know all your options on November 8. Whoever you choose, just be sure to vote. It does matter!

By the way, you can see all your options at the Minnesota voter information portal.