New app helps Clinton supporters trade votes to key states
A new app connects Hillary Clinton supporters in reliably blue or red states to third-party supporters in key battlegrounds, allowing them to trade votes to shore up Clinton's path to the White House.
The #NeverTrump app matches Democratic voters in states like California with supporters of Jill Stein or Gary Johnson in swing states, giving each voter a chance to cast a ballot in a state that could have a greater impact.
The platform was created by Clinton supporter Amit Kumar and his team of developers at Trimian, a Silicon Valley tech firm. Kumar said he was inspired to create the app after he immigrated to the United States from India and realized that American voter turnout was comparatively low.
"The reason for the difference is not that people are less interested. It's that they feel their votes don't matter as much," Kumar said, arguing that giving voters a chance to swap votes eliminates the excuse not to vote.
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The app, which works on the honor system, and allows voters to chat with their potential partners to see whether they agree on trading their votes. Voters can even use a map to choose a match in a specific swing state.
Vote swapping is a de facto practice that has increased in popularity as technology has made communication across state and party lines easier.
The fever pitch around trading votes reached a peak in 2000, when websites encouraging the practice became popular, largely because of support for third-party candidate Ralph Nadar. In response, several Republican states sued the sites, claiming swapping votes is illegal.
In 2007, a federal appeals court ruled that trading your vote is a form of "constitutionally protected speech and conduct."
Kumar said his app has been downloaded more than 25,000 times since it launched in September. He estimated that nearly 9,000 voters have been paired — the company has even received match requests from early voters while they were waiting in line at their polling places, he said.
Kumar said he hopes the app ultimately will encourage people to take part in the process.
"The app itself is bringing together people who clearly do not agree — Jill Stein voters are different from a Clinton or Johnson voter — but what's happening here is a large population, regardless of their policies, agree that a Trump presidency would be disastrous," he said.