Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s crass attitude, disrespect for women and policy ignorance are just some of the many things about him that seem to have irked the American voters to a level of desperation.
As more and more reports of Trump’s misbehaviour emerged, Hillary Clinton supporters decided to take matters in their own hands to ensure that at least he does not win. Not surprisingly, not many are enthused about the prospect of a Trump America. Some voters have started a website to ensure that any one, except Trump, wins. They have decided to trade their votes.
The entire mechanism of vote trading is very simple. Voters talk to each other about how they should vote to achieve a shared goal. In this case, to defeat Trump. The website trumptraders.org matches a third party voter in a swing state with a Hillary Clinton voter in a safe state.
A swing state has the largest number of electors like Florida (29), Pennsylvania (20) and Ohio (18) and are prone to shift back and forth between the parties, often determining the final result.
Whereas safe states historically support either the Democrat or Republican candidate election after election.
A Democrat from a Clinton safe state will trade vote with a third party supporter from a swing state, thereby ensuring that Trump does not get the votes to win.
The website matches a voter with voter in other states based on their party preferences. It matches a swing state voter with a third party voter. “Vote trades will shift votes for candidates like Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and Evan McMullin into safe states, and votes for Hillary Clinton into battleground states like Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania.”
The website claims that this vote trading is significant because in the mid-October poll of Ohio voters, Trump was leading Clinton by 1 percent. This is even after the allegations of sexual assault against the Republican candidate emerged.
There are also mobile apps which ease the whole process and help voters connect with others to trade their votes. #NeverTrump is one such app.
This app was launched by Amit Kumar, who realised that the best way he could help Clinton win was by getting third party swing state residents to vote for Clinton, while still being able to show support for their original candidates, Vox reported.
In 2000, during the Presidential race between George W Bush and Al Gore, a constitutional law professor Jamin Raskin noticed that thousands of Gore supporters living in Republican states felt the uselessness of their vote.
The dilemma emerged because a strong showing by Ralph Nader in 10 swing states could help give Bush the 270 Electoral College votes he needs to win, as Raskin writes in a Slate article.
In 2000, the Nader voters were in a conundrum. They didn’t know if they should vote for Nader and make sure he gets the 5 percent of the popular vote needed to qualify the 2004 Green Party Presidential candidate for federal funding or, should they vote strategically for Gore to stop Bush?
Raskin found out that the key to bring them out of this quandary was a voting device called “pairing” used in the Senate. In this, senators on opposite sides of issues match up their votes if they are going to be away from Washington.
As the election neared, “Nader Trader” website emerged. The idea was to link individual Gore Democrats in Republican states with individual Nader supporters in swing states.
However, the concept didn’t work back in 2000 because the internet was still in its amateur stage and not everyone had access to it. Moreover, the word could not spread fast enough, as The New York Times points out.
Fortunately, the internet is easily accessible now and can help defeat Trump. Clinton supporters are using it to spread the word and the presence of vote trading software to ensure a Trump defeat.
The trading is also based on an honor system. However, Raskin believed that the logic of vote swapping is so appealing that it might encourage voters to spontaneously cast their ballots for the other guy without registering at the website.
The state law prohibits selling of votes but trading of votes is perfectly permissible. It is a matter of voters publicly expressing their political preference and hence, it is protected by the First Amendment, according to The New York Times.
The National Voting Rights Institute and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California previously brought a case on behalf of exchanges created for the 2000 election and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Porter vs Bowen that voter exchanges were constitutionally protected speech and conduct.
Americans might actually be able to prevent Trump from becoming the President by simply trading their votes.
First Published On : Nov 4, 2016 11:32 IST