Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Vote Swapping

Becks at Unfogged believes the Supreme Court will hear the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion that vote-swapping websites such as the ones that were popping up in 2000 for Gore-Nader swaps. The 9th Circuit holds that these websites are legal, but Becks does questions whether the Supreme Court will uphold this ruling.

I am not a lawyer, I do not even play one on this or anyother blog, but I am curious as to why there is a legitimate argument about vote-buying or any derivative there-of.

As I understand how these swap sites worked, self-identified Gore supporting voters who claimed that they were in very safe states, either definately Bush or definately Gore states such as Utah, Rhode Island, or Massachusetts, matched up via these swap sites self-identified potential Nader voters who lived in conceivably swingable states such as New Hampshire, Iowa, New Mexico or most importantly Florida. A non-enforcable promise was made that the safe state voter would declare an intention to vote for Nader and the swing state voter would vote for Gore.

The premise behind these non-enforcable and non-verifiable promises was to increase the a dual probability of a Gore win and a Green Party 5% national threshold victory. However no funds were exchanged, no enforcement mechanisms were present and no revelation of the secret ballots were coercively or verifiably possible. I really don't see this as any different than a private decision to vote for or against a candidate for any idiosyncratic reason and then communicating that decision to other potentially interested parties.

Rick Hasen at the ElectionLaw Blog has way better analysis and legal experience on this than I do, and it is an interesting read. He has an interesting little pragmatic argument that the Supreme Court will not touch this, and I am sorry that I am this cynical to see an argument at a location where it might not be present in the following paragraph:

Expect to see more such websites in 2008 if this ruling stands, especially if Bloomberg, Hagel, or someone else runs as a viable "Unity '08" candidate.

Most of the potential 3rd party candidates are candidates of the right or at least of the Republican coalition. The left has to worry about Nader but I think 2004's model of aggressive ballot challenges and general apathy to his heighten the contradictions argument will minimze any damage he can do. However the initial evidence suggests a McCain-Lieberman Unity '08 ticket, or a Bloomberg run or a Hagel 'rational conservative' run would perform the traditional function of a 3rd Party run in the US system of 1st past the post plurality --- aid the party furthest from the 3rd Party's positions. And shucks --- that would be the Democrats in 2008, so if these vote swapping websites marginally aid the GOP in a tough year, I have a hard time believing the Supreme Court will stop that.

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