Vancouver’s Brad Touesnard recently launched Vote Swap Canada, allowing voters to “connect with people across Canada who want to minimize vote splitting and increase the effectiveness of their vote.” You can essentially trade votes with another Canadian in a different constituency if the party that you support is unlikely to win in your riding but likely to win in another. Each swapper agrees to support a different candidate in hopes of helping their own party in the long run.
The program is different than other vote-swapping sites, argues Touesnard, in that users send personal requests to other voters in different ridings matching their swap criteria, rather than being automatically paired. Potential swappers can accept or deny the resquest, and users can send as many requests as they need to in order to get a willing partner. Touesnard also encourages swappers “to open a dialog with [the other voter] to be on the safe side.”
The concept is essentially a good one–significant downfalls of Canada’s single-member plurality voting system are that a candidate can win without a majority, and that pre-election poll results can sway voters. Though the swapping is based on the honour system and it will be difficult to really map how effective it is, Vote Swap Canada remains an interesting idea–not at all what political parties likely had in mind when they considered how to use the web to their advantage.