De-Vote.org Seeks to Help Voters Escape False Dichotomy of Two-Party Cartel

It’s widely recognized that many if not most people who vote Democrat are far from delighted with their party’s leaders, and only support them in order to keep Republicans from getting in who they fear would be even worse. Similarly, the average grassroots Republican voter is not particularly happy with the GOP’s leadership, but fear of what Democrats might do in office keeps them voting for politicians they often see as mediocre at best. The challenge for alternative parties, and those who would like to see a real, vibrant system of representative democracy (or republic, if you prefer), has always been how to translate this fundamental dissatisfaction with the cartel parties into support for independents.

I recently received a message directed to me at the LP.org email address I’ve been assigned as an elected member of the Libertarian National Committee about a new vote exchange or vote-swapping site, De-Vote.org. While vote-swapping — individual Democrats and Republicans pairing up to vote alternative party together so as not to cost either establishment party the loss of a vote relative to its rival — has been tried by at least a couple other websites and is no longer exactly a new idea, the general concept remains quite attractive. It seems like the kind of thing that, with a bit of luck, could really catch on and have a devastating impact on the dominance of the two-party cartel.

If a website set up to facilitate vote exchange were to “go viral”, De-Vote.org looks like a good candidate for it. The site appears well-designed — straightforward, attractive, and easy to use. It makes the case for vote swapping clearly and succinctly, without excessively dumbing down the subject matter. If you know people who feel stuck on the Democrat or Republican plantation and aren’t too happy about it, De-Vote.org could be a good place to send them. Here’s what the site’s founder has to say:

Jan 4, 2013, 9:27 AM

Dear Starchild,

My name is Patrik Lundh, and I have created a social networking website with the goal of helping people vote for the 3rd party of their choice: www.de-vote.org

There are millions of Americans out there who voted for the Democrats or the Republicans in national and local races, but would have preferred to vote for your party, or some other 3rd party, instead. De-Vote offers a way for them to do that in the next election.

The Problem: I am sure that you often encounter a common challenge: People believe in your platform, they would like to vote for your candidate, but they still vote Republican because they are afraid that voting for your party will help the Democrats to win.

The Solution: De-Vote is meant to help those voters vote for the party they actually believe in. On de-vote.org, they can reach out to a voter that will vote Democrat but would prefer not to, and make a Voting Pact. This means that both voters mutually agree not to vote for either the Democrats or the Republicans. This way either one will not have helped “the other side” win (i.e., “wasting” their vote), and they are both free to vote for the 3rd party of their choice.

How De-Vote Can Benefit You: My hope is that De-Vote can be an important recruitment tool for your party as you reach out to potential voters to build your membership base.

What we are asking you to do: Help Us Spread the Word!

Obviously, this means that as you gain members with the help of De-Vote, your rival parties will as well. But the goal is to help all so-called 3rd parties at the same time, and thereby interrupt the duopoly of the Democrats and Republicans. We believe this is good for American Democracy, since the ultimate goal is to open up the political field for more ideas, have a more honest debate about our society’s direction, and create more choices for American voters.

With your help, De-Vote can help shift the balance away from the two party system we now have, and you will have an important means of convincing your potential members that they will not “waste their vote” by joining your party!

You will notice that De-Vote membership is close to zero. We are just starting this service, and we hope that as membership grows, people will begin to find voting partners they can enter into a Voting Pact with.

If you have any questions or suggestions for how to improve this new project, please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,

Patrik Lundh, Ph.D.

Founder, de-vote.org

Email: patriklundh[at]de-vote.org

28 thoughts on “De-Vote.org Seeks to Help Voters Escape False Dichotomy of Two-Party Cartel

  1. Jed Siple

    I’d rather convince voters not to give a crap whether the Republican or Democrat wins, and that minor party & independent candidates could win if you actually vote for them! Radical concept I know!

  2. Dave Terry

    Starchild wrote:

    >”…many if not most people who vote Democrat are far from delighted with their party’s leaders, and only support them in order to keep Republicans from getting in who they fear would be even worse.”

    >”..Similarly, the average grassroots Republican voter is not particularly happy with the GOP’s leadership, but fear of what Democrats might do in office keeps them voting for politicians they often see as mediocre at best.”

    This is ALL true, however the “De-Vote” scheme appears to me to be like putting socks on after you put on your shoes. They will not fit!

    There honestly cannot be any actual progress in replacing EITHER of the two parties of ‘power’, as long as we have an electoral scheme that literally enforces a 50% + 1 (winner-take-all) form of representation.

    According to Duverger’s law, there is a symbiosus or synthesis between a party system and an electoral system: a “Proportional representation” system creates the electoral conditions necessary to foster party development while a plurality representation system marginalizes many smaller political parties, resulting in what is known as a two-party system.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duverger's_law

  3. Dave Terry

    Don’t ask me where the “smily face” came from!
    I typed (“P) but that is not what came out.

    ???????????????????????????????????

  4. Krzysztof Lesiak

    Starchild, look forward to meeting you when I cover LNC meeting in Chicago for IPR in March!! I will have my friend record a ustream for u guys.

    I will live blog, so u and Paulie can focus on business, w/o any distractions!

    Also, wats ur opinon of Wrights / Ruwart 2016 and Paul Frankel for LNC at large?? :)

  5. paulie

    I will probably not run in 2014. It costs a lot of money to be on LNC and travel to all these meetings, and no one is really covering my costs. I did get one $50 donation to go to to the last meeting from Phillies, which I appreciate, but it costs more like a thousand bucks each time, and that is not even counting opportunity cost.

    Similarly, Mary and Lee went through the ringer trying to run for the presidential nomination in 2008 and 2012. You may want to ask them if they are interested.

    Since my region rep JJM is going to be at this meeting (otherwise he’s off the LNC) I will be able to help blog, unlike the last meeting when I was actually participating in business full time.

    However, I still want as much help with the blogging as I can get.

  6. Krzysztof Lesiak

    If JJM is off, that means you become regional rep ???

    I do not wish him to get this, cuz JJM is cool, he was WAYYYYYY better than than neocon Ted Cruz who is shrewd and hoodwinked ROn Paul and the Liberty movement, but… well…. :)

  7. Jill Pyeatt

    This is a great idea and certainly one worth being considered. However, at this point, I’m convinced that most Republicans and Democrats don’t have the intellectual capacity to understand such a concept. They’re just too clueless at this time.

  8. paulie

    If JJM is unable to finish the term, it would be up to my state chairs to decide whether I take over or someone else does, but I don’t anticipate that happening.

  9. johnO

    Is mighty whitey the same guy/gal that ran some crazy videos last week/month? That guy was interested in shotguns. Not much in Peace and Love. Full of hate and war though.

  10. paulie

    Not 100% sure but I think it’s the same person.

    I’m many years away from running for anything like chair or vice chair. Maybe someone can put me in charge of vice here locally.

  11. Starchild

    Krzysztof Lesiak @5 – Hmm, I was assuming your first name was a weird spelling of “crazy stuff”, but now that I see you’re offering to teach Paulie to speak Polish, I may have to abandon that hypothesis. :-) How do you pronounce it?

    To answer your questions, I supported Mary Ruwart in 2008 and Lee Wrights in 2012, but it’s too early to say yet for 2016. As Paulie notes @6, Mary and Lee may or may not even be interested. I’d like to see Lee be more assertive in pushing and standing up for a strongly libertarian agenda and needed party governance and operations reforms in his role as LP vice chair.

    I actually thought Gary Johnson represented the Libertarian Party well last year, although I’d like to see him drop his support for a national consumption tax (or at the least, phrase it in terms of focusing on getting rid of the IRS and describe the replacement tax as a temporary necessary evil rather than something to tout as beneficial), and also brush up on his debating skills.

    I supported Paulie for the recent At-Large vacancy on the Libertarian National Committee (I was the only LNC member to do so, sadly), and would be inclined to do so again (though as always it depends who the other candidates might be). His institutional knowledge, and impressive capacity for weighing in on anything and everything that deserves a thoughtful response, is a real asset to the committee, and I suspect this would be even more true if we had a better majority (sometimes I find him a little too even-handed and a bit more reluctant to go against extant priorities and assumptions than I might prefer).

    Of course I understand his financial concerns well, having similar though perhaps somewhat less urgent concerns myself, and hope that if he is willing to run again, the radical/grassroots Libertarian community will give enough support that he feels he can afford it.

    Thank you for volunteering to live blog the upcoming Chicago LNC meeting (see details in subsequent post), and I will look forward to meeting you there! Is there any chance you’ll be able to videotape the meeting and post the video?

  12. Starchild

    Here are the details (slightly edited for clarity) of the next Libertarian National Committee meeting, as posted to the LNC list by LP operations director (paid staffer) Robert Kraus:

    ——————————————————–
    When: March 16-17, 2013

    Where: Embassy Suites O’Hare [O’Hare is reportedly the closest airport to fly into]
    5500 North River Road
    Rosemont, IL 60018

    Room rate: $99.00 Single or Double ($10 extra per person for triple or quad)

    Reservation Link: http://embassysuites.hilton.com/en/es/groups/personalized/C/CHIRMES-LNC-20130313/index.jhtml?WT.mc_id=POG

    or call 847-678-4000 and give discount code “LNC”

    Please note – the front page of the reservation screen will show “King $109” but this is the regular rate. When you make the reservation you will get the reduced rate and the type of room you prefer.

    The meeting will be held in the “Walden Room” on the 8th floor

    Other: The special rate above INCLUDES free internet and reduced parking. Plus free made to order breakfast and cocktail reception in the evening with complimentary beverages (including the alcoholic variety). There is a free shuttle (and the hotel is located very close to the CTA). Transportation and direction details can be found here: http://www.embassyohare.com/hotel-near-downtown-chicago/index.cfm (pickup is at the Hotel Bus-Shuttle Center Door #3)

    Info on local attractions, info on getting Down Town via the CTA and dining can be found here:

    http://www.embassyohare.com/downtown-chicago-attractions/index.cfm

    In addition, Gayle Dieck and James Pauly have been in contact with me and are working on a Chicago LP happy hour type event for Fri or Sat night. I will forward to you all further details once received.
    ——————————————————–

    Sadly, the LNC is continuing its practice of meeting in hotel meeting rooms, which I consider an egregious waste of our members’ money — Robert previously informed me that the average LNC meeting costs $2500! While I believe that figure includes the cost of flying staff (usually Robert and LP executive director Carla Howell) to the meeting location, we spend hundreds on meeting rooms and refreshments, which to me is totally unjustifiable when there are plenty of places we could meet for free, if perhaps in slightly less upscale or “professional” surroundings.

    Advancing the cause of freedom is more important than having nice amenities! If you agree, please call and email other members of the LNC ( listed at http://www.lp.org/lnc-leadership ) and tell them you want them to stand up and oppose this practice and have the chair direct staff to look for free meeting spaces!

  13. paulie

    Agreed with Starchild on all points.

    I’m not seeing enough support for me to want to run for LNC again, but maybe that will change.

    I *think* it’s pronounced “krishtof” but he can correct me if that’s wrong.

    He has already said he will video the meeting. We’ll try to broadcast live as well, but that will depend on the internet signal.

    Oh and thanks again for voting for me.

  14. paulie

    No, I would have abstained if I had been voting based on my own judgment. The only reason I voted was to save JJM a trip, since he was going to cast a vote on behalf of the state chairs in the region and he needed to rebuild his business after the campaign. The chairs instructed us to vote for Hinkle, so that’s how I voted.

    Regarding meeting locations, I proposed trying an online meeting to see how that goes, but the chair ruled that it would be against the bylaws that require us to meet in a place and that the internet or a phone conference is not a “place”, plus other people had other objections.

  15. Starchild Post author

    To get this thread back on topic, I had some additional correspondence with Patrik of De-Vote.org including the folllowing:

    ME – Do you have links on the site to state voter registration sites where people can register to vote (hopefully with an alternative party)? If there is a page with such links, I didn’t immediately see it; this could be a helpful feature to include, for voters who are ready to leave the establishment plantation entirely… [Regarding people joining the site as members] perhaps there could be some kind of “higher level” of membership on the site to which people could belong or advance by certifying they have left the GOP/Democrats?

    PATRIK – This is a good question. I’m going to think about this a little bit. I think it would be good to include a membership category for folks who are already independent voters and want to participate as advocates in other capacities. This could be the “higher level” membership that you suggest. I updated the web site with a page that links to voter registration resources for all the states.

    If you have ideas for Patrik on how to include people who are already voting alternative party, please let him know at De-Vote.org or at his email address included in the article that started this thread.

  16. Dave Terry

    Jill Pyeatte (9)

    > “I’m convinced that most Republicans and Democrats don’t have the intellectual capacity to understand such a concept. They’re just too clueless at this time.”<

    The first law of warfare is "Never underestimate your enemy! If history proves anything; every single presidential election since 1860 has been won by a Democrat or a Republican while WE
    have NEVER, EVER even placed second.

    Many Democrats or Republicans would be more likely to vote Libertarian if they believed doing so would not automatically elect the OTHER major party to office

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