WASHINGTON -- The strong opposition some people have toward presidential candidate Donald Trump has led to the resurrection of a practice started back in 2000.
It is called vote trading and, after having survived a legal challenge following the Bush-Gore campaign, it might be a game changer in swing states like Florida and North Carolina.
With vote trading, a voter in a party-dominated state could put his or her vote to more effective use by trading it for one from a swing state. This transaction can be accomplished online, with certain smartphone apps or by personal agreements between two people. Verifying the successful completion of the agreement is impossible and is left to the honor system. No actual votes are swapped, just promises by both parties that they will vote as the other wants.
Former Californian Secretary of State Bill Jones shut down the process just prior to the 2000 election, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later ruled that Jones’ actions were unconstitutional as he “severely burdened activity protected by the First Amendment.”
Two Republicans voting for presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in an effort to stop Trump have revived the idea with their TrumpTraders smartphone app. John Stubbs and Ricardo Reyes have resorted to the practice because they view the electoral college’s varied weighing of votes in different states as “absurd."
Critics, however, contend that the method is open to massive voter fraud that could bring about civil and/or criminal complaints.
The Florida Record contacted attorney general offices in Florida, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Pennsylvania to obtain a comment about vote trading.
Chuck Ardo, spokesman for Pennsylvania Attorney General Bruce Beemer, issued the following statement, “While we would certainly discourage such activity as unwise, it appears to be deal between private parties which does not include financial incentives nor otherwise violate the law as long as the person casting the ballot is legally entitled to do so, whether that vote is germane to determining the winner or not.”
Some voting watchdog groups also expressed unease. Kim Alexander, of the California Voter Foundation, declined to comment on this particular issue, but said she was concerned that there was no way to determine if the “ballots cast were done as agreed upon” by the two parties.
"The phenomenon of vote trading is being largely fueled by social media," she said. "The ease people have in connecting with each other has made such deal-making incredibly uncomplicated.: