Vote swapping for beginners

anyabike
anyabike
Jun 2, 2017 · 4 min read

Do you feel that in the constituency you live in, under first past the post, your vote counts for nothing? Then maybe you should consider swapping your vote.

Here’s how it works.

You sign up with swapmyvote.co.uk and tell them 3 things: your preferred party, the party you’re willing to vote for as part of a swap, and the constituency you live in.

You then see a selection of people who could do a swap with you.

So, for example: say you support Labour, but you live in a safe Tory seat. Or even a safe Labour seat. Either way, you voting Labour isn’t going to achieve much. But you’re willing to vote Green as part of a swap. So you enter these preferences on the website.

You then see what swaps are available to you. These swaps are currently available (at time of writing, names redacted):

The bar chart is very helpful because it shows you how the polls say the parties are currently doing in those constituencies. So you choose one where your swapped vote can make a difference. (Personally I would go for Exeter or Hove, because Ben Bradshaw and Peter Kyle voted against invoking article 50 and so I would feel they deserve my support.)

So choose one and wait to hear back if they accept your swap.

What’s in it for the Green supporter? Well, they have to choose between voting for a party they don’t support (in this case Labour) as the lesser of two evils, or voting for their own party and in doing so, letting the Tories win. Lots of Green voters wouldn’t want to do that. So by swapping with you, they vote against the Tory candidate and still get (through you) a Green vote towards the national tally. (Over a million people voted Green nationally at the last election.)

Also, there are quite a lot of constituencies where the Greens are not standing this time. These include key marginals and a lot of constituencies in Scotland and Wales. So if you’re a Green voter in those constituencies, you might want to swap your vote so that you can vote Green at all.

All of the above applies equally well to swaps between a Lib Dem voter and a Green voter. These are the choices at time of writing:

Obviously the one to go for is the Tory to LibDem marginal, Lewes, where Kelly-Marie Blundell is challenging Maria Caulfield.

Theoretically it’s also possible for a Labour voter to swap with a LibDem voter. I didn’t see any good swaps on offer when I was looking, but it’s worth a try. Just keep playing around with voting preferences.

If you want to know more about a particular constituency, and who’s standing there, it’s all on Wikipedia.

If fighting Brexit is what motivates you, Open Britain has a useful list of key constituencies where you can either vote to defend an incumbent like Peter Kyle who voted against Article 50, or vote to support a challenger like Kelly-Marie Blundell against an incumbent who voted for Article 50. So look for swaps into those constituencies.

What if you can’t find a swap that’s worth doing? Two things (1) wait (2) be flexible. Personally, being motivated mainly by Brexit, I was willing to swap to any marginal where “my” vote would go to either a Lib Dem candidate or a Labour MP who voted against Brexit. So I kept playing around with preferences until I found a swap I was happy with.

I also found when you offer to swap with someone, some people simply don’t reply. The system gives them 48 hours to reply, which is too long in my opinion. After 24 hours I re-set the preferences. This cancels your offer to that person and you can look for another swap instead. As the election is quite close now, I wouldn’t even wait 24 hours.

How do you know the other person will vote as they say they will? You don’t. It’s all done on trust. You have to log in using Twitter or Facebook, so once you’ve agreed a swap you can contact your swap partner on social media. If when you see their Twitter profile you think there’s something dodgy, you could always cancel your swap at that point. I’ve made contact both times I’ve done it, it’s obvious the person I’ve swapped with is a genuine Green voter, and I’m prepared to trust them (if anything I suspect they may have voted tactically anyway. But some Greens will vote Green in even the most marginal constituencies, so it’s got to be worth giving them a reason to vote tactically.)

Finally, the more people who know about it the more great tactical vote swaps will be on offer, so please spread the word! Tell your friends and family, and retweet or link to this post on Facebook and Twitter.

anyabike

anyabike

London Irish lawyer and feminist

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