Georgetown students and DC residents are all too familiar with the feeling that their vote does not count. Whether registered here in the district, which has no votes in Congress and only three electors in the Electoral College, or registered back home, where local elected officials have minimal effect on a student’s current life, students and residents often fall victim to voter apathy. And for those who do not live in the eleven or so swing states, knowing that a state is solidly red or blue even further drives the high levels of apathy in politics today. While such factors often depress turnout, voters in this election cycle have found an interesting way to use votes in solidly red and blue states to drive participation in swing states.
Clinton supporters, fearful of a Trump victory and the daunting possibility of polling errors, have recently launched a new media campaign to trade votes for third party candidates in swing states. The #NeverTrump app seeks to connect voters in swing states who intend to vote for third party candidates like Gary Johnson with voters in solidly blue states who plan to vote for Hillary Clinton. The app also provides anti-Trump Republicans with a way to voice their disdain for the options they face in this election. Considering that voters are often told that voting third party is either a wasted vote or a vote for Trump, this new trading platform may help to drive up turnout for congressional and gubernatorial races in competitive states this Tuesday.
The #NeverTrump app is very simple to use. Voters willing to trade simply sign up, indicate the state that they live in, which the App classifies as Red, Blue, or Swing, and the candidate they wish to vote for. The app then creates a stream where individuals are able to select another individual with whom they might trade votes. The users can chat first before deciding to trade. The platform has also been used to organize campaign events and Get Out the Vote operations.
While the Obama campaign team revolutionized elections with their use of social media, vote trading actually is not a new idea. In the 2000 Gore-Bush election, websites like votexchange2000.com, vote-swap2000.com and nadertrader.org emerged offering a similar, albeit less high-tech, platform where Democratic voters in blue states could trade their votes for Gore with votes Nader supporters in swing states.
Following the election, we may find out just how effective the platform turns out to be. Amit Kumar, founder of the #NeverTrump app, reports that the app has been used by over 10,000 voters across 38 states. While most students have likely mailed in their absentee ballots by now, the #NeverTrump app has changed the race in these crucial last days and perhaps in future elections to come.
Check out the app here.