Collective Action at Work: the Anti-Harper Vote Swap

By Melanee Thomas on Sep 16, 2008

I heard about this on The Current this morning and thought two things:

1) Fantastic example of collective action!

2) How is this NOT political?!

The second thought relates directly to the interview, as the creator Mat Savelli indicated that he didn't find the group and the action it takes political at all. For me, "political" includes any interaction with or action directed to the formal political system, so it boggles my mind someone would think this up and then argue it's not political. But I digress. 

Apparently Elections Canada is looking into the action to see whether or not it's legal. I'm of the opinion that as long as swappers don't receive remuneration or some other form of individual benefit (besides a warm fuzzy if they think they managed to secure the election of someone other than a Harperite on October 14), it's all legal and fair game. And kind of hilarious. 

There are as of today 3 891 members of the group. If they all follow through, this number is certainly enough to change election results in close ridings, provided the geographical distributions, as Harold Jansen has noted, are what they need to be.

Here's the kicker: I wonder how many will actually carry this out when they go to the polls. It's one thing to be against one party and not really care about the others, and this likely describes a number of Canadians. However, I imagine most voters who are anti-Harper are likely supporters of a particular party, and I can see a number of them thinking about vote swapping, get instructions to vote for another party they don't particularly like (as there is little love lost between partisan Liberals, New Democrats, or Greens), and struggle to hold their nose and cast the strategic ballot on election day. 

Part of me also wonders if this is a sneaky way to keep Liberal votes up, as they clearly are the main beneficiary of this strategy, given that neither three-way races nor polling data from the four by-elections called immediately prior to this election are taken into account in the "who's competitive" calculations. Then again, if the creator really isn't that 'political', perhaps he didn't think about that part. 

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Interesting find

Very interesting read on the facebook site. Maybe a few more people might actually go out and vote vs. checking their facebook every five minutes.

I don't even know what street Canada is on. - Al Capone

I don 't see how it can

I don 't see how it can work. You have to trust the other person to vote in a way other than how they normally would? Right.

I also don't see why it should be illegal. Then again, I don't see why outright selling your vote should be illegal either. If you don't have the right to sell that vote, it's not really yours is it? Besides that, how are election promises NOT just buying your votes? Think about it. Steven Harper has paid me $100 a month for the last two years with the child benefit. He promised that in the last election to get me to vote for him. How is that not buying my vote?

Elections Canada says it's legal

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/09/17/vote-swapping.html

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