Vote Trading Idea - Would this work?

I had an idea that would help promote third parties and help people in non-battleground states make sure their vote would count. This is entirely reliant on the honor system, but I think this could work.

Let’s say Voter A lives in a state that is certain to go to a particular candidate, like Oklahoma or New York. Voter A wants to make sure their vote helps their candidate of choice, so he gets in touch with Voter B in a state that is up for grabs. Voter B is a fan of a third party candidate and would like to help their guy have a decent popular vote, but knows that they have no chance of winning. They have a preference for who wins (i.e. they may be Libertarian but don’t want Obama to win). Voter B pledges to vote for Voter A’s candidate of choice, and Voter A votes for Voter B’s third party candidate.

How does this sound?

Ralph Nader had something like that called “Nader Trader”

I’m pretty sure it was shut down for being illegal. Plus it would be very easy to get someone to vote for whoever you want by promising to vote for a third party candidate where you live and not doing it. shut down voluntarily after the California Sec. of State sent a letter advising that it is illegal (in California) to broker the exchange of votes.

Today the practice is more commonly called vote pairing, and many people in both state governments and at the federal level maintain that it is illegal, pursuant to the law(s) prohibiting the exchange of votes for anything of pecuniary value.

Proponents argue that there is nothing of value being exchanged; that it is merely 2 parties agreeing to cooperate to vote strategically.

wikipedia has a decent article on it.

As the OP notes, whether this is legal or not, the enforcement problem is probably insurmountable. The election of the president has vast consequences for who lives and who dies as well as the quality of life we lead. Under those circumstances, I, for one, would have no compunction about making a vote-trading deal with someone and then reneging.


John: Hey Jim, I know you want to vote for Nader, but you live in a battleground state where it’s important to vote for a real candidate. I live in California, so my vote doesn’t matter. We would both rather have Gore win than Bush, so why don’t you vote for Gore and I’ll vote for Nader?

Jim: Great idea! I’ll do it. (hang up)

John: Hey, Nancy, I know you want to vote for Nader, but blah blah blah etc. why don’t we trade votes?

Nancy: Good idea! Okay I’ll do it.

John: Hey George, why don’t we trade votes, etc.?

George: Great idea! Okay, let’s trade votes.

See the pattern here?

It’s certainly no stupider than other reasons why people vote.

If you prefer a third party honestly, though, you should vote for them yourself, where you live. Trading schemes add to aggregate vot totals, but make it difficult for third parties to make gains where it is most plausible for them to do so- on a local level.