Friday, October 7, 2016

Vote Trading and Vote Pacts

Vote Pairing

Vote pairing is any scheme whereby to people commit to voting in a mutually agreed upon manner. You will often here it called vote trading, vote swapping, or vote pacts. It was officially declared legal in 2007. Vote pairing is really only necessary if you care about preventing a spoiler effect.

Vote pairing is largely grassroots and there is not much data on its impact or success rate. It is based on the honor system, so it is not immune to manipulation.

That said, the idea of vote pairing is sound and I support it. If you are thinking about voting 3rd party, this is the approach I’d recommend.

There are two major strains of vote pairing.

Vote Swapping

In vote swapping, Voter A, who wants to vote third party in a swing state, swaps their vote with Voter B, who wants to vote for the ideologically-closer 1st party in a state that already has an overwhelming majority for their candidate. The idea is that neither voter risks a spoiler effect without any change to the nationwide vote tallies for each candidate.

Vote swapping has a couple of additional advantages. It helps candidates get to 5% of the popular vote (necessary to become eligible for federal campaign matching funds) or 15% (for debate representation).

Infiltration by oppositely-aligned mainstream party voters can’t do much damage. Vote swapping also increase the number of 3rd party voters who would otherwise vote 1st party out of fear of a spoiler effect.

Vote Pacts

In vote pacts, a disaffected Democrat and a disaffected Republican in the same state both agree to vote for third parties. Neither voter affects the relative standing of the two mainstream parties, so there is no possibility of a spoiler effect (unlike vote swapping, which just makes it incredibly unlikely). However, with vote pacts you may end up helping an ideologically opposite 3rd party.

Before agreeing to a vote pact you should ensure the following:
  • You and your pact buddy are both in the same state. If your state is Nebraska or Maine, where electoral votes can be split, make sure you are in the same congressional district.
  • In the absence of the pact, both you and your partner were fully committed to voting for opposite mainstream candidates.
  • You absolutely trust your pact buddy. [Optional] It may help if you know them in real life.
  • [Optional] You both vote for the same 3rd party. If you can agree on a 3rd party, vote pacts are even safer!

Compared to vote swapping, vote pacts, especially online, are more susceptible to tampering and rely more heavily on trust. However they have the advantage of increasing 3rd party votes by twice as much as vote swapping. This is important if you’d like to see 3rd parties get powerful enough to one day break the two-party system.


No comments:

Post a Comment