“But you’re wrong that you’re free to vote third party”

Another source of this “You have to vote for Hillary Clinton” bullshit is William Hamby in a string of public posts on Facebook. You’d think he was James Carville on speed.

A comment on one of his own posts a couple of hours ago for instance:

William Hamby In 2000, 3% of American voters took a vote from Al Gore and gave it to Ralph Nader. Because Al Gore, who would have solar panels on the White House and carbon emissions cut by a third, wasn’t progressive enough.

George W. Bush was “appointed” based on a difference of several hundred votes. Those left defectors elected George Bush. End of story. Noble goals mean shit in politics. Voters must think long term.

No, we didn’t “take” a vote from Al Gore. It wasn’t Al Gore’s vote! Nobody owns all the votes. The Democratic party doesn’t own the votes of all people to the left of the Republicans. Nobody stole a vote from Al Gore and gave it to Ralph Nader, because that’s not the arrangement.

I said that and more, and got an even more frankly coercive response:

[Y]ou’re not wrong that 2000 was a clusterfuck and there’s not a 100% guarantee that the defector Left vote would have given Gore the presidency. It was an election so crooked the UN would have been called in anywhere else.

But you’re wrong that you’re free to vote third party. There is a 0% chance that your third party will win. Zero. That is absolutely certain. There is some possibility greater than zero that defector votes like yours will cost the Democrats the presidency. If that happens, the SCOTUS will be locked conservative for 30 years.

Even if you’re in a deep red or deep blue state, you still have a moral obligation to vote Democrat. National numbers matter. They create either a strong mandate or a weak one.

I’m wrong that I’m free to vote third party!!

No, I’m really not. I am free to vote third party. I’m free to vote whatever party; I’m free to vote for a write-in. The fact that X thinks it’s wrong and reckless and bordering on criminal does not make me not free to do it anyway, so it’s simply not in any sense true that I’m wrong that I’m free to vote third party.

And there was an earlier post shouting at those naughty people who don’t vote for the Democratic presidential candidate:

Christ, I am tired of seeing all this “I won’t vote for Hillary” bullshit. So fucking tired of it.

YOU are responsible for 8 years of Bush. You are responsible for the Democratic Party leaning centrist. Don’t you realize that the Republicans get the entirety of their fringe right vote, and the Democrats don’t get the fringe left? Has it occurred to you that’s one of the reasons Republicans keep winning? Don’t you realize that the Democrats court the middle because you asshole fringe left voters can’t be counted on to vote? Nothing is ever far left enough for you, and they know it, so they don’t even try.

The state of the country is directly because of you. Because of your inability to think long term instead of voting your fucking idealist conscience.

Oddly enough, I don’t find this persuasive.


  1. Deepak Shetty says

    As an outsider I find it funny , that the 3% is what gets people worked up , not the N% who voted for George W Bush, not once but twice! The first time , well ok, maybe you didnt know , but to give him a second term ? American exceptionalism at work i guess.

  2. moarscienceplz says

    Oh, I’ve already acknowledged that America is not exceptional, except maybe exceptionally obsequious towards Christianity. As I recall, in one of the early polls in the 2000 election something like 9% of the people who said they liked then-candidate George W. Bush gave as their reason the fact that he had done a good job the last time he was president. In other words, they thought they were voting for his father.

  3. says

    The problem is the election system is set up to support only the two parties GOP and Dems. The game is rigged and until that is fixed voting for a third party is basically throwing the vote away.

    I prefer open elections with preference voting. Most of the current issues with too much money involved in elections is because of the entrenched two party system. Lobbyists and special interest groups would have more trouble bribing legislators if they could never be sure who would be in office.

    Fix the system then maybe I would agree with not voting for the selected candidate but until the system is fixed a third party will never gain enough to unseat either of the major parties.

  4. Deepak Shetty says

    @Doug Berger
    The problem is the election system is set up to support only the two parties GOP and Dems.
    Ive heard this many times , but I dont know how true it is. As far as I can tell, the problem is that the third party expects to show up every 4 years at the presidential election – without having any kind of grassroot support or demonstrated governance capability. First start at a city/state level , show that you can govern, then move onto other states then worry about the presidency.

  5. says

    The trouble I have with dems automatically assuming support from progressives, and angrily accusing us of “electing Bush” by not lending that automatic support, is that it makes them lazy. Why should they put forward good candidates with truly progressive platforms if they’re going to get the vote anyway, just because republicans are awful? I don’t want lazy candidates with wishy washy agendas.

  6. iknklast says

    The reason the Democrats are not courting the “fringe left” (which to them seems to mean anyone more progressive than Dwight Eisenhower) is because, like the Republicans, they are courting the handful of people who can give them big bucks. Each presidential campaign gets more and more expensive; the people who can afford to donate big will get the candidates, because they will get the media exposure, they will get the billboards, they will get the speaking engagements, so they will be the ones that voters turn out for.

    And people who say that the third parties can never win are actually creating some sort of fulfilled prophecy, because I hear a lot of people who say they vote for the “lesser of two evils” because the third party can never win. If all the people who say they like a third party candidate better voted that way, the third party candidate could win. I don’t see that as likely to happen, at least not when one party is so extremely out in the vapors and scary.

  7. ZugTheMegasaurus says

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I’m one of those progressives who votes the Democratic Party line in state/national elections. I’m not anywhere close to being a Democrat. My dad regularly explains my politics to people with the phrase “left of Lenin.”

    Do you think I’m happy with the people I vote for? Fuck no. The only reason I vote is for the reason these people are pointing to, that as pissed as I get with Democrats, the Republicans scare the living shit out of me.

    The people making these stupid arguments don’t seem to understand one important thing: what I want in terms of policies and politicians isn’t the same as theirs. Whether I vote for something that has next to no support or whether I vote with the group that has a chance of winning, I’m still in the position of not having my wants and needs considered. Yes, I’m sure lots of people would be very happy if total strangers helped them win something they wanted, but that doesn’t mean there’s any kind of obligation for them to do so, or that they should just understand that helping you get what you want is an obvious end unto itself.

  8. says

    This line of reasoning is so screwy, though I understand where it comes from. My vote is just that: my vote. It wasn’t Al Gore’s and it wasn’t the string of third party candidates I voted for, nor was it Obama’s. It was my vote. When I voted third party I didn’t screw you over.

    I think getting screwed over is beside the point, but if we’re going to put that terminology to use, people voting first party and second party are the ones doing the screwing for the rest of us. After Obama broke most of his campaign promises around civil liberties and kept us a violent and suspect nation, I refused to vote for him again in 2012.

    I should take a hint at “secret ballot,” because I take a ton of shit for it from friends and relations when I say that I’ve not voted for a major candidate. But I’m supposed to hold my nose and not vote my conscience on issues I care about (like, I dunno, not bombing predominantly brown people on the other side of the planet) and care about “your” issues like the Supreme Court. Because pragmatism.

    Pragmatism doesn’t seem to fly for a lot of the other ideologies our amorphous end of the spectrum holds dear. Why this one?

    And I hate that positioning, too. Yeah, the Supreme Court is also my issue, but it’s like my own compatriots make me damned if I do or damned if I don’t. Because then it comes down to abortion and then I’m told I’m basically voting against a woman’s bodily autonomy. I don’t know…I think those bombed brown people way over there had a right to have bodily autonomy, too, but that’s gone.

    There’s a whole load of stuff protected in the Bill of Rights; a lot of it is getting trampled on, abused, or outright ignored. Stupid precedents are being set. And ultimately I believe other civil liberties issues will make solving any of the rest next to impossible in the coming decades if they are not addressed. Which, ultimately is why I hate the discourse because it’s not nuanced and everyone feels forced to make pragmatic choices about what’s most important. Like they are “your” issues or “my” issues.

    It doesn’t matter how cogent your arguments may be or how politely you put them, though. If you vote third party, you’re the asshole. Then clearly thoughtful people like Ophelia have to fall back and equivocate and say, oh, well, my vote didn’t count anyway, I don’t live somewhere contested. Fuck that. Own your vote. You don’t need to excuse it. It’s those overwhelmingly larger number of people who voted for the first and second parties who are the problem.

  9. gmcard says

    Step 1. Condemn the conservatives and tea partiers for holding the government hostage during their shutdown pandering.

    Step 2. Hold the government hostage by getting Republicans elected when we don’t get the Democratic nominee we want.

  10. gmcard says


    You’re the engineer on a train, coming up to a three-way split. But the railway switch’s signaling is messed up: both the right and the middle signs are lighted. It’s 50/50 which one is correct. All you can tell for sure is that switch is not presently going to the left path.

    As you get closer to the switch, you see there’s a large crowd on the tracks ahead. Two dozen on the right track, one dozen on the middle. None at all on the left track.

    You have three buttons, to control the railroad switch and select a track. Unfortunately, the leftmost track button is broken; pushing it has no effect and you know this to be the case.

    So, which button do you push?

  11. MyaR says

    Also, the actually utilitarian answer is “get on the loudspeaker and yell at those idiots to get the fuck off the track, there’s a train coming“. Sure, you can invent ever more ridiculous details that make that impossible, but I can keep coming up with other scenarios that would work. (Because the engineer in the train doesn’t actually control the switches, that’s not how railroads work.)

  12. says

    Wonder if the same thing is said to those who vote for third parties on the right, or who don’t vote because they don’t think the Republicans go far enough.

  13. sawells says

    It is indeed ridiculous to blame the very small number of people voting their conscience for a third party and not apparently blaming the very large number of people who vote Republican. Those guys are your problem. Anyway, if Democratic supporters want to push a Democratic agenda, they should focus on getting Democrats to vote at the midterms, instead of yelling at people like Ophelia.

    The logic of these you-must-vote-this-way arguments seems disturbingly close to the reasoning which blames women for getting raped, ignoring the agency of the rapists.

    There’s also the point that voting tactically is a terrible long-term strategy: it makes the party you actually support look less well supported and thus militates against plausibility and long term success.

    Intriguingly, in the UK at the moment we’re in the midst of the collapse of a two-party system which a decade or two ago looked permanently entrenched. Last election we had the first coalition for a century. This time, it’s quite plausible that not only will no one party get a majority, maybe even no two parties will have one. What fun we shall all have!

  14. says

    Wonder if the same thing is said to those who vote for third parties on the right

    I don’t think it is. I don’t think there was anything like this indignation when Ross Perot ran, and he was worse for the right than he was for the left (in terms of splitting).

  15. doublereed says

    Even if you’re in a deep red or deep blue state, you still have a moral obligation to vote Democrat. National numbers matter. They create either a strong mandate or a weak one.

    This works the opposite than the person is arguing. Voting for the third party, if anything, reduces the mandate which is exactly what you’re going for. It shows that you actually want someone further left.

  16. gmcard says

    Captaintripps @ 13:

    I’m quite confident that there have been far fewer murders that can be laid at the feet of the Obama administration than there would have been for a McCain or Romney administration.

    But what I most regret is my naive foolishness as a voter in Florida in 2000 opting for Nader, since “the parties are all the same”. No administration will be perfect, but in terms of murders, no Iraq War, potentially no 9/11, no PATRIOT act, no Medicare Part D scam, no giveaway to the ultrawealthy, and so on… the world would be a far better place.

    Nader and his voters were selfish and self-destructive. Well, make that just plain destructive, since everyone around the world lost.

  17. says

    gmcard @ 18: I’m sorry you feel you’re to blame for that. I don’t, and I voted for Gore. I don’t know why you take the blame for that when any other number of factors Gore and the Democrats controlled could’ve gotten more votes for him. Blaming the third parties is way easier because you can just move some numbers from one column to another. It’s more complicated than that.

    Your rubric for the last election is not one that I would use.

  18. brucegee1962 says

    The only way we will ever get a truly progressive candidate running for a national election is if the Republican party ceases to be the malignant tumor on the body politic that it currently is. In a future where the public has finally seen through the party’s lies, and the GOP is only polling around 40% or less of the country, and the Democrats control both houses and are starting to get lazy and complacent — THAT’S the time that I could imagine starting to split the party and mount a real challenge from the left.

    Fortunately, the GOP seems to be so toxic that I can certainly imagine that scenario playing out within the next dozen years.

  19. says

    But what I most regret is my naive foolishness as a voter in Florida in 2000 opting for Nader, since “the parties are all the same”. No administration will be perfect, but in terms of murders, no Iraq War, potentially no 9/11, no PATRIOT act, no Medicare Part D scam, no giveaway to the ultrawealthy, and so on… the world would be a far better place.

    Hindsight is 20/20. I still recall the 2000 election, and it was not at all totally clear (to me) at that time that Bush was going to be the nightmare that he ended up being, or that it was going to be essentially a Cheney presidency, since we knew next to nothing about Cheney. What we did know about Bush was that as governor of Texas, he was widely considered to be someone who crossed the aisle and compromised (at least, among Texans, and it was reported that way nationally). After the bruising partisan battles during the Clinton administration, I recall it being fairly common for people wavering in their decision to simply want to be rid of that style of politics, and seeing Gore as a continuation. Both of the candidates seemed to be mediocre at best at that time, so third party candidates took on a unique luster. In the end, the results–a wash, with Bush having to be appointed president rather than elected–bore out the general evenness of the two men, at least as perceived by the public.

    Of course, as you point out, in the ensuing years it became clear that they were not at all even, and the Bush presidency was an unmitigated disaster for the USA and the world. However, nobody then could have predicted all that would happen, just as nobody can now say that a Gore presidency would not have had its own awful shortcomings. Would 9/11 have happened under a President Gore? Quite possibly. The great currents of change that brought that tragedy about were already under way during the 2000 elections, and long before. Would Gore have invaded Afghanistan as a result? Maybe. Probably? Who knows.

    My point is that you go to the voting booth with the information you have, not knowledge of the future. In a close election with two candidates that are in many ways indistinguishable in terms of good qualities and drawbacks, and both of whom are unremarkable, I see no reason not to seriously consider a third party candidate.

    This upcoming election is Clinton’s to lose. There are a lot of people, like me, who currently mildly support her. As PZ Myers wrote, I’ll likely vote for someone else in the primary, but then hold my nose and vote for Clinton in the general election, if it comes to that, and if the elections were to be held tomorrow. But I don’t see any reason to disparage someone who, for matters of their own conscience, considers voting for the likes of Sanders (or on the wildly off chance that it were possible, Warren). Nor do I see any reason for you to beat yourself up for not having a crystal ball in 2000 and thus feeling it’s your obligation to vote for Clinton this time around. Your vote is your voice, however washed out it is by the millions of voices around you–you wouldn’t use your voice to speak against your conscience to a friend, so I don’t know why you would do it in the voting booth.

  20. sawells says

    @18: if any one of a large number of other things had happened differently in any one of a number of other states, the Florida result wouldn’t have been a determining factor at all. It’s ridiculous to beat yourself up over something which only looks like “the decisive factor” because of an accident of chronology.

  21. brucegee1962 says

    I must convince that, in my very first election, I voted for John Anderson. What can I say — I really liked the guy, and I was young, and like @21, I thought that there wasn’t any difference between Carter and Reagan.

    Did I mention that I was very young? Let me say it again.

  22. says

    See… there are other places where, when I express my disdain for the Democrats, say that I’ll probably end up writing in a different candidate (in this case, Elizabeth Warren), or voting Green or Socialist, I quite literally get lectured, trolled, yelled at, and sometimes worse all because I fucking abhor the Democrats.

    And it’s not because I’m stupid enough to think both parties are the same. After all, it ain’t the Dems waging a war on women, or openly supporting Creationism in the science classroom, etc. And I get that, I do.

    But the Greens would be even better at fighting against that. Socialists even better than them.

    For fuck’s sake Elizabeth Warren would be a better fucking candidate than fucking Hillary Clinton! Am I not even allowed to fucking demand a left-wing opponent so that we can at least pull Hillary just a tiny bit to the fucking left?

    And yet I was basically shamed into voting for Obama in 2012 by the crowds of people screaming at me for daring to suggest that I want to vote my conscience because, as they claimed, it would guarantee a Romney win.

    So, after reading this post, I put up the following question at Yahoo Answers: Okay… look. I need to know… how, exactly, does voting third party screw over the party in power?

    Why? Because I want to see it spelled out. I want to see the numbers, the raw data, and the statistics. I want to see the SCIENTIFICALLY VERIFIABLE PROOF that voting my conscience will fuck over the Dems and guarantee a Republican win in 2016. And until that happens, I plan on voting my fucking conscience… thank you very much.

  23. Lady Mondegreen says

    The problem is the election system is set up to support only the two parties GOP and Dems.

    Ive heard this many times , but I dont know how true it is.

    What seems to be true (My math skills are poor so I’m taking this on the authority of mathematicians) is that our voting system is always going to tend towards two parties. If you could inspire a large number of people to move further to the left you might, say, replace the Dems with the Greens. Unlikely, but say you could.

    You’d still have just two viable parties. You’ve just replaced one with another.

    Same thing for Republicans/Libertarians.

    As it is, of course, the two parties are beholden to the same plutocratic interests. (Well, that’s a problem in itself, but I think changing the voting system could help with that too.)

    Want to break the two-party deadlock? Change the voting system.


  24. says

    This is an teresting discussion, and I’m learning a lot from reading everyone’s thoughts. I’m definitely far more of a utilitarian mindset than idealistic and continue to strongly believe that voting third party is a bad decision. But as far as blaming a GOP win on third party voters…well, honestly, that depends on my mood at any given moment. Sometimes I do, and other times I’m more forgiving, for whatever reason.

    Similarly, as someone who has been a voter in Alabama and Louisiana, I’ve had to do a lot of soul searching to find reasons why my Democratic vote even matters at all. Sometimes I feel I’m grasping at straws. That’s why I was so outspoken and agressive about the Louisiana US Senate race last fall — for the first time ever, I felt I could actually make a difference.

    Also, FWIW, I’m clearly not to blame for 2000 as I was only 16 and couldn’t vote, and I’m probably to blame for 2004, as I was still my old evangelical self and voted for the W. Sorry, everyone.

  25. says

    Hahaha ok, fair enough.
    The only reason I’ve been able to forgive myself for that is the simple fact that I voted in Alabama, so it would’ve made zero difference anyway. But still, the first time in my life that I exercised my right to vote, AND I USED IT ON BUSH. Sad face.

  26. says

    Maybe this is OT (sorry if so), but one thing that gets me out to vote blue in red states in national elections is county-level results. In both Alabama and Louisiana, I lived in cities with major state universities, and both cities also have a large black population surrounded by white rural and suburb areas within the county. So given that minorities, students, and academics trend Democrat, and rural and suburbian Southerners strongly trend Republican, I’m always super interested to see if my county wins blue. It’s always very close in Baton Rouge (Louisiana) because it’s much more heavily minority than Tuscaloosa (Alabama) which usually runs barely red — for the 2012 POTUS, East Baton Rouge Parish voted Obama 52%, and I like to think I contributed to that. Even though it mattered two shits on a national scale.

  27. Daniel Schealler says

    You’re exactly right when you say there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with voting for the candidate you prefer.

    There is something wrong though. The wrongness is to do with First Past the Post voting, and also with how the Electoral College works.

    CGP Grey has some good videos on the subject of voting systems.

    The Problems with First Past the Post Voting Explained.
    How the Electoral College Works.
    The Trouble with the Electoral College.

    So Hamby is right that something is wrong. But he’s incorrect to blame the people who vote for the candidate they prefer. The real problem is that the American voting system is broken, such that people who vote for their preferred candidate instead of voting strategically can wind up hurting their own interests.

  28. says

    @Doug Berger
    The problem is the election system is set up to support only the two parties GOP and Dems.
    Ive heard this many times , but I dont know how true it is. As far as I can tell, the problem is that the third party expects to show up every 4 years at the presidential election – without having any kind of grassroot support or demonstrated governance capability. First start at a city/state level , show that you can govern, then move onto other states then worry about the presidency.

    Election laws are mostly left to the states. Here in Ohio third parties have to jump through more hoops just to get on a ballot than the GOP or Dems. Minor parties also have to get a certain percentage each major election to remain a recognized party.

    State tax dollars pay for the primary elections. The form of the GOP and Dem state party committees are set in state law. What parties do in operation of their parties should be a law.

    The GOP and Dems control the election boards in all the counties with two reps from each party and tie votes are broken by the Secretary of State who is not independent so the two parties control ballot access. A mistake by a minor party is used to force them off the ballot while a mistake by a major party is worked around if possible.

    That’s why I think starting with preference voting would help chip away the control the GOP and Dems have on the election system.

  29. chrislawson says

    Mr Fancypants@21:

    After the bruising partisan battles during the Clinton administration, I recall it being fairly common for people wavering in their decision to simply want to be rid of that style of politics, and seeing Gore as a continuation.

    That makes no sense to me. If people hated bruising partisan politics, then would they vote for those responsible for the worst acts of bruising partisanship?

  30. MyaR says

    Does anyone else see some parallels between this particular discussion and the discussion around a certain Secular Organization that would like to be a Single Secular Organization To Rule Them All But Without Doing Any Actual Work? I feel like the Democratic Party runs much better, in policy and platform terms, when there *is* a lot of contentiousness and challenges to the establishment candidates and policies, and I think the secular movement does, too.

    (It’s too early to be completely coherent yet, but I also have lots of thoughts about how damaging the Southern Strategy was, not least in conflating social and economic conservatism into a giant capital-c Conservatism, and progressives’ lack of a decent response to it, other than moving to the right.)

  31. says

    I didn’t see anything like this in the comments, so I do want to go somewhat off topic and say that there will be people, as there were in 2012, who will recommend people vote third party because, they claim, that will get the establishment to pay attention. And that’s just bullshit. Whenever I see people make this claim, I point to the 2000 election and how the establishment did not change their ways due to that 3% voting for Nader. No, the narrative of the establishment is and has been this one of blaming Nader for being in the race to begin with. It’s never an issue to them of Gore not having been an appealing enough of a candidate.

    With that said, I don’t have any issue with people voting third party. I thought about doing it myself in the last election (I don’t think I did, though, as I live in a “swing state”). But to tell others they should vote third party to send a message to the establishment is delusional, wishful thinking. I say if these people really want to make a difference, (1) get involved earlier in the election process and (2) don’t forget about pushing for your ideas (whether that be candidates who share your views or platform items) at the local level. What the heck are they doing waiting for the presidential election to think to make their mark?

  32. Dunc says

    Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos!

    If you really must have someone to blame for your preferred party’s performance in any given election, here’s a rough outline of the people you might want to consider, in approximate order of being worth worrying about:

    1. All the people who claim to support your party, but didn’t bother to vote.
    2. All the people who claim to support your party, but voted for their main opposition.
    3. The people running your party, who are ultimately responsible for 1 and 2.
    4. The people who voted for the opposition.
    4. Finally, maybe, the (usually inconsequential) handful of people who voted third party.

    In the particular case of Bush v Gore 2000, there are some other people to think about:

    1. The GOP operatives who disrupted the recount.
    2. The Supreme Court.
    3. Gore himself, for accepting defeat.

    Nader voters barely make the top 10. But who gets all the hate? I find the use of the term “defectors” very revealing here…

  33. freemage says

    Well, there is a reason that most mainstream Dems don’t bother blaming Republican voters for the loss in 2K, or otherwise working on them> It’s assumed that the GOP supporters are a lost cause–something that really seems to be the case.

    It’s the result of the long-term consequences of the GOP’s strategy in elections. They craft a message that appeals to a minority of the population, but which will motivate that minority to show up in strong numbers. Essentially, they get 80% of 40% of the vote. Now, if the Democrats had done the same, we’d have a sense of balance, with a third party possible in the middle.

    Instead, however, Bill Clinton and the DNC opted for the ‘centrist’ strategy. Under the triangulation tactic, you figure out where your opponent is on the issue, and then adopt a position marginally to the left. The idea is to get 60% of the remaining 60% of the vote. This gives the GOP 32%; the Dems 36%, and the remaining 32% pissed off because they don’t have a sane choice.

    This is great for winning the presidency (so long as your candidate doesn’t make the mistake of relying on a particularly disappointing predecessor; one of Gore’s big mistakes, in my opinion, was not moving to distance himself from the Clintons early on). However, it SUCKS on a different issue–to-wit, the ‘coattails’ the rest of the party is supposed to be able to ride into Congress while your candidate is running. Because of the disillusioned non-turnout by your base, the rest of the ballot has to work harder to get supporters to show up.

    The only place progressives have any chance of asserting their will on this system is in the primaries–which are held in such a way that the victor is usually declared before half the states have even gotten to express an opinion. And it’s during the primaries when these arguments that we have to vote for the ‘most electable’ candidate have the least moral force. Will I vote for whoever is on the Dem ticket for president? Yes. But I really, really hope that it’s not Hillary, and I’d like for her to still be facing real challengers by the time she gets to my state.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *