Rightly disgusted with the choices offered by the major parties in the 2016 POTUS election, many voters abstained or voted 3rd party. Being sympathetic to both Green and Libertarian concerns (and angry that those concerns got so little attention in the inane debates), I agree that there is something to be said for voting 3rd party in the uncontested states that are safely blue or red. A minor party that crosses the 5% threshold in the popular vote will get ballot access and more attention in the next election.
What about the contested states?
Like it or not, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were the only candidates who could have become the next President. Like it or not, abstentions and 3rd party votes in contested states could have tipped them from Clinton to Trump. Like it or not, tipping contested states could have tipped the Electoral College from Clinton to Trump (or even thrown the decision into the House of Representatives, which would have chosen Trump).
So what? Should I not vote my conscience, regardless of where I live? No!
The point of voting is not self expression. The point is to participate in choosing the driver of a bus we all must ride in. The 2016 POTUS election was a choice between 2 bad drivers. One of them had a record that includes moving violations and at-fault collisions, but not DWI or total losses. The other was (and still is) an intoxicated newbie seething with road rage.
Image cropped from the Seattle Times