Elections

How to make your blue vote count in a deep-red state

jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com File

What do you do if you’re a Hillary Clinton supporter voting in a state — like Mississippi — that has no chance of going blue?

Trade with someone in Ohio.

Or Pennsylvania, Iowa, Florida or (apparently) Utah.

A new app called #NeverTrump, as well as a feature on a website called Trump Traders, part of the Republicans for Clinton grassroots organization, lets people do just that. There may be other apps or web services that perform the same function.

As the names imply, the platforms were developed for third-party supporters living in swing states who don’t want to vote for Clinton and want to vote for a third-party candidate, but don’t want to see Donald Trump in the White House. But it can work in reverse, too, for Clinton voters living in deep-red states who want to vote for Clinton without wasting a ballot.

Here’s how it works: You’re a Jill Stein supporter living in Florida. You want to vote for Stein but are afraid that your vote will amount to a vote for Trump. You log onto the app and find a Clinton voter living in safely blue Washington, D.C. That voter agrees to cast a ballot for Stein — displaying national support for the candidate but not taking away a vote from Clinton while the voter in Florida casts a ballot for Clinton.

Or if you’re a Clinton voter living in Mississippi, you might make a similar trade with a Gary Johnson voter living in Ohio. The idea is both people’s voices are heard.

“It’s not about taking votes from third party candidates,” the Trump Trader’s website says. “We like those candidates. In fact, we want to help them get more votes, and we can do it strategically in states that won’t accidentally tilt the election to Trump.”

And hey, a Trump supporter in a deep-red or deep-blue state is certainly able to use the same app and website to trade votes with a third-party supporter in a swing state so your vote is amplified, too. It works both ways.

You can read more information about the process here.

So a lot of people are saying right now this sounds a lot like election rigging. In fact, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Porter v. Bowen that vote swapping is a constitutionally protected activity. The platforms’ creators argue that they are just facilitating conversation between voters in different states and no money is changing hands.

It’s not clear how many people are using the services. The numbers fluctuate frequently.

And there is one catch: With ballot selfies outlawed in many states, including Mississippi, participants have to simply trust that the person they’ve traded votes with will follow through.

Regina Zilbermints: 228-896-2340, @RZilbermints

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