“Anti-Trump Republicans: Don’t Waste Your Vote. Trade It.”

Vote trading ideas are back, this time on the NYT oped page (John Stubbs and Ricardo Reyes):

Republican voters who refuse to vote for Donald J. Trump are in a bind. They could vote for Hillary Clinton, but that means supporting a candidate whose positions likely run counter to their beliefs. Or they could vote for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, whose positions might be closer to their own but who stands almost no chance of winning a single state, let alone the White House.

Fortunately, there’s a precedent, and a solution: vote trading, which was first attempted during the 2000 election and which, thanks to today’s more robust internet, could make all the difference in a tight race.

Sixteen years ago, the concern was that votes for the left-leaning third-party candidate, Ralph Nader, could siphon off critical support for Al Gore in swing states like Florida. Gore supporters begged Naderites not to “throw away” their vote — an insinuation that Nader voters found offensive.

As the election neared, though, “Nader Trader” websites emerged. The idea was simple: A Nader supporter in Florida, where every vote mattered, could promise to vote for Mr. Gore — and, in exchange, a Gore supporter in a Democratic stronghold like Washington, D.C., would promise to vote for Mr. Nader.

It was a good idea, but in 2000, it didn’t work. Word didn’t spread fast enough, and the internet was still in its infancy. But it’s worth revisiting.

First, consider the size of the #NeverTrump Republican vote. In 2012 Ohio Republicans went 94 percent for Mitt Romney; President Obama received 5 percent of their votes and 1 percent went to “other.” This year, because of Mr. Trump’s candidacy, the percentage of Republicans who have indicated they are voting for Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Johnson or are unsure is 18.2 percent.

Why isn’t this illegal vote buying? California made that claim after 2000, and the 9th Circuit held that these were not binding promises, and they were a form of First Amendment protected speech.  Not clear if other courts would agree should this arise again. (Here’s the last of the Ninth Circuit’s opinions on this.)


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