Vote-Swapping App Aims To Defeat Trump In Swing States

Want to make your vote count a little more, or clear your conscience in voting for Hillary? There's an app for that.

Photo Illustration: Diana Quach
Nov 03, 2016 at 6:00 AM ET

Imagine this: You’re a lifelong Republican who despises Hillary Clinton — almost as much as you loathe your party’s standard-bearer, Donald Trump. You’d love to vote third party, but, since you also live in a swing state, you’re worried about ‘wasting’ your vote, and then watching Trump win. So, with a joyless heart, you resign yourself to voting for Hillary Clinton.

Then, along comes an app with the potential to cheer your #NeverTrump heart, at least a little. Trump Traders is a project that pairs people like you with voters in blue states, in order to make the election feel a little more palatable.

“We get it. Secretary Clinton is not your favorite. But at this point she is the only one standing between Trump and the White House,” the Trump Trader’s web page reads.

The app pairs up wannabe third-party voters in important swing states like Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania with other folks in decidedly blue spots like New York and California and encourages them to “swap.” You, the Trump-hating swing stater, agree to vote for Clinton — but in exchange, your new friend in L.A. changes her Clinton vote to Gary Johnson. This way, Clinton gets a Trump-stopping vote where she needs it (in Florida), and Johnson gets one somewhere Hillary will win anyway, boosting the guy you actually like — along with your mood.

(It can also work in reverse: helping genuine Clinton supporters reluctantly registered to vote in red states find Never Trump-ing independents in swing states in order to make their vote count more.)

The idea for the app came from Republicans For Clinton (R4C16) a nationwide grassroots movement, with development help from the Silicon Valley CEO behind the Never Trump app. (That app just lets you find and bug your buddies who live in swing states.)

“This has been an absolutely unholy election year,” Republicans For Clinton co-founder John Stubbs told Vocativ. “The silver lining from this process could be that Donald Trump has found a way to break down some of the red team versus blue team versus green team divisions that we’ve been playing with for far too long in America. We now have individuals who are willing to cross the aisle… thinking strategically about how to affect the outcome of the election for the good of their country rather than the good of their party.”

Stubbs, who is registered to vote in Washington D.C., is matched with a Gary Johnson supporter in Pennsylvania. The two will swap votes next Tuesday.

The plan for the mass vote swap essentially copies the less-technologically advanced “Nader Trader” campaign of 2000, which used a bunch of websites to try to pair Nader and Gore voters.

“I think it didn’t work because there was no social media [then],” Stubbs said, noting that the app allows for user verification through Facebook.

Surprisingly enough, the practice is actually legal under the First Amendment. While the Nader Trader websites were shut down one week before the election because of pressure from California elections officials, a 2007 Ninth Circuit court case found that vote swapping is completely legal.

According to Stubbs, more than 12,000 voters have been matched in the week and a half since the campaign was launched, and half of these matches have occurred within the past 24 hours. He expects that even more matches will be made as R4C16 continues to run online ads in swing states.

With polling numbers for the candidates this close, especially in the swing states, every vote counts. “People in swing states are starting to pay attention. You have 13 precent of people in Ohio saying they’re going to vote [third party] in a race that’s a dead heat. We implore them to pick the lesser of two evils.”

While the Trump campaign has remained silent on this growing movement and did not respond to inquiries as to whether this constitutes the kind of “voter fraud” or “rigged election” he is wont to bring up, his supporters certainly have been.