This story was written by Keith Dawson for the Industry Standard's Media Grok email newsletter. It is archived here for informational purposes only because The Standard's site is no more. This material is Copyright 1999-2001 by Standard Media.

Vote Trading in a Horse Race
Nov 03 2000 12:00 AM PST

Jamin Raskin floated the idea last week in Slate: Defuse the possibility of the Nader vote giving the election to Bush by using the Net to arrange vote swaps among Nader-friendly voters. Match up Nader supporters in swing states with those in states locked in for Bush. Have them agree that the swing-state voter will vote for Gore and the Bush-state voter will vote for Nader. Bingo: Al Gore gets elected and Ralph Nader gets the 5 percent his Green Party needs to grow and prosper with Federal funding.

At least half a dozen sites sprung up to implement Raskin's suggestion, and the press covered them widely. Farhad Manjoo's story last Tuesday for Wired was typical: Manjoo interviewed the owners of two of the swap sites and got a Justice Department spokesman to opine that such arrangements are legal.

On Monday the California attorney general threatened legal action, citing California voting law, and three of the swap sites based in California shut down. CNET's Patricia Jacobus explored the ethical and legal nuances of agreeing to trade votes for no monetary value. Jacobus talked to a Sacramento attorney who said, "This is a Republican secretary of state helping out Bush."

On Thursday Reuters broke the story that the ACLU will go to court for one of the California sites, An AP story by Greg Risling was among the first with the news that Oregon's secretary of state has followed California's lead and ordered vote-trading sites to stop working with Oregonians.

Jedediah Purdy wrote an op-ed in today's New York Times arguing that vote-swapping is more expressive, and more valuable, than casting a single vote that is based on your personal convictions. And we thought only dead people in Chicago got to vote more than once. - Keith Dawson

Nader's Traders (10/24)

Vote Trade: The Democratic Way? (10/31)
Wired News

Should Voters Be Barred From Trading Votes? (11/01)

ACLU Backs Vote-Swapping Site (11/02)
USA Today

ACLU Vows to Defend 'Vote-Swap' Sites (Reuters)

ACLU Challenges State's Threat to Vote-Swapping Sites (AP)
San Francisco Chronicle

How to Go to the Polls Twice
New York Times
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