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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Filed Under: vote swapping

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Aug 2007 @ 6:59am

    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.

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