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
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.
Patrik Lundh, Ph.D.