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Change Generation

Still Somehow Considering A Third-Party Candidate? Try This Vote-Swapping App Instead

Trump Traders lets you vote to defeat Trump even if you are for some reason still insistent on a third party in the face of everything Trump represents.

Still Somehow Considering A Third-Party Candidate? Try This Vote-Swapping App Instead
[Photos: Getty]

If you don't want Trump to win, but can't bring yourself to vote for Clinton (because you care deeply about email server maintenance, say), there's another option in certain states: The Trump Traders app will let you swap your vote with someone in another state.

The app matches people in states where the vote is certain—such as California—with someone in a swing state like Ohio. An Ohio voter who supports Gary Johnson, for example, might promise to vote for Clinton if the California voter they're matched with promises to vote for Johnson.

"That way the Gary Johnson supporter in Ohio feels better," says John Stubbs, cofounder of a Republicans for Clinton group and the new app. "They've had a conversation with somebody across the country, they've talked to them about their candidate, they've influenced them to vote in a certain way for their candidate. Their candidate still gets the numbers in the national conversation, and they also get to feel better knowing they're not tilting the election toward the person that is their dead last worst option."

The swap is made on the honor system. "There's no contract, there's no binding agreement," he says. "That's essentially also why it's legal." In essence, it's just canvassing—and a circuit court decision in 2007 about previous vote trading found that it was protected under the First Amendment (still, the app isn't available in Minnesota or New York, where regulators have expressed concern about the idea).

Vote trading was first attempted on a small scale with Nader supporters in the 2000 election, and with more success in Canada's 2015 election of Justin Trudeau. In this election—as the race gets tighter than ever—it could potentially help determine who wins.

"It appears that the independent third-party voter in swing states like Ohio and Florida and North Carolina and Pennsylvania and Nevada will determine the election," says Stubbs. In 538's numbers for Wednesday, Trump would win Ohio by 15,000 votes, while more than 600,000 people would vote for a third party. That's 13% of the population in a state where roughly 1% typically vote third party.

"You have 10 times the [usual number of third-party voters] saying we're Never Trump, Never Hillary," says Stubbs. "That group of people will basically determine whether Trump or Clinton wins. From our perspective, I get it. Clinton's not my candidate. I'm a Republican, I worked for Jack Kemp, worked for George Bush, and I supported Jeb Bush in the primaries. My candidate didn't make the final two either. And I have to evaluate this as a least-worst outcome scenario."

The app is making matches between people who otherwise never would have met, like a young college student in Ohio, who supports Jill Stein, and a corporate Republican lawyer in California, who planned to vote for Clinton. They talked to each other about their candidates, and planned a swap.

Stubbs wants the conversations to continue after the election. "The interesting silver lining in this election process—and this has been an unholy election year—is that Trump is uniting people in ways that are typically siloed into red team versus blue team dynamics," he says. "We've broken through that. I'm now talking to a lot of Democrats, a lot of Libertarians, Green Party supporters. Project one is we beat Trump. Then it will be interesting to see if we can carry forward some of that collaboration and some of that bipartisanship to the next thing."

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