An e-mail sent to me and a few other right-minded bloggers from Shawn Paul in Kentucky warned us about something called vote swapping. His tone sounded urgent so I decided to a little checking into an organization called VotePair. The sole purpose of this site is to take people in swing states that would normally vote for Ralph Nader (or David Cobb) and have them vote for John Kerry. The Paired Kerry voter would then vote for Nader or Cobb in their "secured" state.
Growing more curious about this I decided to to a smidgeon of fact checking. It turns out that a few groups tried this in 2000 with Nader and it was believed that about 36,000 Nader/Gore supporters traded votes before the state of California shut the sites down. Since there is no actual selling of votes the legality of doing this is still a legal hotbed.
Surprisingly, I was not able to find much online about VotePair in the news. CNN made a quick reference to it and NBC11 has an online article (San Francisco Bay area) but the people who had the most about this was actually Wired. Has big media missed the boat on this again? Is it up to us, the blogger, to turn on the sirens again? Since this is a fairly new concept I'm not quite sure, but it was important enough for someone I've never even heard of before to send be urgent e-mail. ( I wish this meant I was turning into a "big name blogger" but I know that just isn't true.)
Now that I've had the opportunity to write down what this site's about and think about the ethics and legality behind it I can say I don't like it one bit. Do I believe it is legal? Yes, it appears to be but I'm not a lawyer and can't say for sure. Is it ethical? HELL NO! Of course some of the left swinging individuals will quickly dismiss this as right wing fear of losing the election. It is anything but.
The purpose of the electoral college serves two masters.
The first purpose was to be a tool of government that would allow all states to have a voice in elections even though the presidential candidates could not voice their political platforms to the people. In some cases people did not even know who the candidates were. Even worse were the rumors that spread about candidates in early elections. One popular rumor had one of the earliest candidates working for the devil and even had a tail! We still get rumors about presidential candidates but most of us are intelligent enough to see through them by using the enhanced tools at our disposal today. The internet is a fine example. Thus, the first purpose for the electoral college is now moot.
The second purpose for the electoral college is for different states to have better weighting in elections. What I mean is that if we were just going to push the popular vote every election we would have an imbalance of election power. People of rural areas have different concerns for government than people in urban areas. For example, how many people from New Jersey really care about the well being of farmers in Nebraska? Maybe 10-20 people? The point is that these areas are demographically different and deserve their voices to be weighted on a fairly equal playing field. If ther were no electoral college or if it were distribuded differently, Nebraska would have a much smaller voice than New Jersey due to population.
Hypothetically, lets try to show a president for these two states stricly on the price of corn. The people of New Jersey don't see the labor involved or the costs of growing and distributing the corn. They only see the supermarket costs. They will obviously elect the candidate promising to lower the price of corn. The people of Nebraska will of course want to push for an increased price of corn because it is a big part of their livelyhood. If there were no electoral college the price of corn would go down because of the larger New Jersey population. This will in turn bankrupt the people of Nebraska because they will have a negative ROI (return on investment).
The destruction of population challenged demographics is what the continuation of the electoral college needs to preserve. This is what Vote Swapping works to destroy. It is taking one demographic of people and forcing it on another through mass of population. It is wrong on concept and morality and should be stopped.
31 minutes ago