Seven Years Later: Vote Swapping Web Sites Were Legal

from the just-in-time-for-a-new-election dept

Back during the 2000 election you may recall there was a third party campaign from Ralph Nader. There was some concern from Democrats that Nader would siphon votes away from Gore. Not to get into a political debate about this (and while I know it won’t happen, I’ll ask that the commenters avoid getting political too), but some websites were set up to facilitate “vote swaps” where (mostly) people in swing states would agree to vote for Gore in exchange for someone in another state voting for Nader. The idea was that this way Nader would still collect enough votes to make a “statement” while Gore wouldn’t lose crucial votes in the swing states. Except that a bunch of politicians started jumping up and down that these sites were illegal. Now, it would be one thing to claim that vote swapping itself was illegal, but to say that the sites were illegal seems like a stretch. It only took seven years, but an appeals court has finally agreed that the sites are perfectly legal. Of course, it’s a bit too late for the sites in question, who shut down when it was first announced that they might be illegal. This is actually the second time the appeals court has ruled on this case, as it had sent it back to the lower court back in 2003, but apparently it took this long for the case to bounce back down and then back up again. So, uh, if anyone feels like setting up a vote swapping website for 2008, it appears that you’re not breaking any laws.

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Comments on “Seven Years Later: Vote Swapping Web Sites Were Legal”

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20 Comments
Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Unnecessary, really

Of course, the only reason these sites were necessary in the first place is because of your “winner-takes-all” voting system in the US. If you had a proportional representation system, like we have in New Zealand (and as they also have in, for example, Germany and Sweden), then all this tactical voting exchange wouldn’t be necessary

Ikey Benney, Vote swapping websites (user link) says:

Vote Swapping Web Sites Were Legal

Hello:

I do not understand the logic behind making this legal.

This is a clear violation of electoral laws.

It amounts to circumvention of the law and it should be illegal, period.

But then again, this is America. Sometimes that which is clearly illegal becomes legal.

Ikey Benney

Nasty Old Geezer says:

Re: Vote Swapping Web Sites Were Legal

Why would a discussion of opinions and opportunities be illegal? How would this be different from two people agreeing to vote a particular way? For example: I care about one candidate for our local school board, but I don’t have a preference for a city councellor seat. You care about the city councellor, but are indifferent about the school board candidates.

We agree to vote for the other’s candidates. Does it matter why?

Selling/buying a vote — for cash, booze, or whatever — is illegal. Agreeing to vote a particular way is not illegal.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Vote Swapping Web Sites Were Legal

I do not understand the logic behind your choice of words “making this legal”…

nothing has been made legal by way of a law or whatnot. All that has transpired is that the courts have judged that based on existing laws, the websites are (not il)legal…nobody made anything legal.

And I honestly don’t see how this vote-swapping would be a clear violation…one could even argue it’s no different than re-districting, except on a more national and random scale

Ferin says:

Lawrence D'Oliveiro (lies damn lies, and stati

The problem with the proportional systems is their complexity. It took me a while to deciperher the equations used in Germany’s system. Imagine the average person who hasn’t had four years of engineering trying to do the same.

I think proportional systems are a great idea, but there’s a legitimate problem with their inherent complexity and subsequent lack of transparency, at least with the general population.

People in America tend to be pretty distrustful when you start tossing about complex equations and statistics. Wether their paranoia is realistic or not, it can still cause problems with eletion legitimacy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I would prefer ..

As nice and as simple as that might be it would lead to presidential candidates spending 90+% of their time and policy on the most densely populated areas. Places like the Dakotas and Alaska would get no attention at all and would feel under-represented, abused, neglected and might do something crazy like revolt or succeed. A new system does need to be devised, but it needs to be some kind of proportional representation. Say electoral votes divided proportionally among candidates that receive over 15% of the states popular vote.

I did a little math and found that –In Theory– it is possible for a candidate to win the presidency with less than 1/3 of the popular vote. If you want to check this out, assume everyone in America votes, there are 2 candidates, republican and democrat, states that vote for the republican candidate do so with 100% of the popular vote, and the states that vote for the democrat do so with 50.1% of their popular vote, and the final tally in the EC to be 270-D to 268-R (and to make it even more extreme, assume only 1% of the democrats states’ population actually vote). Of course this will never actually happen, but it illustrates one reason why our electoral system needs help.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) says:

Re: Re: I would prefer ..

Alaska and the Dakotas can join Canada. See you later, Bridge to Nowhere! Of course, it would be a little awkward to need a passport to see four founding fathers of the U.S. heads carved in the side of a mountain.

Could you really trust the vote swap, though? How would you prove that you voted one way or the other? Until the votes are in and your guy got no votes…shakes fist toward the heavens.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I would prefer ..

The current system exist to minimize exactly what you are describing.

Assume the all The North voted Democrar and every body else voted in opposition then one section of the US would govern to the disadvantage of the rest of the US. The last time this happened the end results was The Civil War with The South starting the war over northern control of imports and the price of cotton and The North fighting against slavery after the start of the war.

BTR1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: I would prefer ..

> Places like the Dakotas and Alaska
> would get no attention at all and would
> feel under-represented

They already are under the current system. How many campaign trips do you see presidential candidates taking to Alaska or Hawaii or North Dakota? How much advertising do they buy in those states? Not much. The least populous states are routinely ignored during every presidential election.

Killer Tofu says:

Re: Re: Re: I would prefer ..

“How much advertising do they buy in those states? Not much. The least populous states are routinely ignored during every presidential election.”

I wish we were too.
I would rather just watch the debates and read about the candidates once or twice.
None of that non stop advertisement on TV attempt to brainwash shit.
After one day of their commercials I am sick and tired of hearing them.
And 90% of the time they don’t have enough good to say about themselves so they blast the other person.

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