"I am a democrat in Utah, which makes me an endangered species. I feel so disenfranchised with our electoral college in this country, as it makes my vote for president worthless. I hope your program is successful, as I want the presidential candidates to pay attention to all Americans, not just those in swing states."
Salt Lake City, UT
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VotePair Starts Matching Voters to Defeat Bush
October 13, 2004--Today VotePair began matching the progressive voters in swing and safe states who have registered since www.votepair.org launched in late September. A Web-based effort to unite progressives toward a common goal-defeating George W. Bush in the 2004 general election-VotePair encourages citizens to vote strategically.
Through votepair.org, swing-state progressives whose first instinct might have been to vote for Ralph Nader (Independent/Reform Parties), David Cobb (Green Party), or Michael Badnarik (Libertarian Party) are paired with Democrats (and others whose first choice for President is Kerry) in "safe" states where either Bush or Kerry has a decisive lead. Paired voters can communicate with each other and decide to vote strategically: swing-state participants for Kerry and safe-state participants for Nader, Cobb, or Badnarik. As a result, support for progressive third parties is recorded in the popular vote, while preference for Kerry over Bush finds voice in the election-deciding Electoral College.
As of today, more than 3000 people from all 50 states and the District of Columbia have registered at www.votepair.org, with the daily registration rate accelerating as the election nears. In addition, last week VotePair began allowing anti-Bush Libertarians to register to pair-further boosting registration numbers. California, Massachusetts, New York, Texas, and Utah have garnered the most registrants among safe states, while Florida, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin lead with the most registrants from swing states. An interactive map of the United States, viewable at www.votepair.org/statistics.php, provides up-to-date information on the status of states as swing or safe, the number of registrants and pairings in each state, and polling figures for Bush, Kerry, and Nader.
"Registrations at votepair.org prove that progressives are more united than divided in their principles and common interests-we fully understand that a second Bush term would spell disaster for everything we stand for," says Brent Emerson, Technical Coordinator for VotePair. "The VotePair effort is part of a national trend of voters speaking out and mobilizing for change. It's exciting to begin the process of pairing voters knowing that their choices will make a difference on Election Day."
Swing state voters will be paired first with voters in Bush strongholds (like Montana, Texas, and Utah). Once all of the registrants from Bush "safe" states have been paired, swing state voters will be paired with partners from Kerry strongholds (like California, Massachusetts, or New York). This strategy minimizes any risk that vote-pairing would jeopardize Kerry's predicted victory in states where he is ahead. When votepair.org arranges matches, each person receives an email providing contact information for their pairing partner, allowing pairs to get to know each other and communicate about their views and votes.
"Polls show third-party candidates within the margin of difference between Kerry and Bush in several key swing states; progressives cannot afford for voters to cast their ballots for anyone but Kerry in these states," says Amy Morris, Political Analysis Coordinator for VotePair. "Vote pairing is a way to work together at a time when election politics is tainted by animosity and distrust. With less than three weeks to go, VotePair is ready to make thousands more pairs. A united progressive voice will certainly be heard on November 2."
Vote-Pairing Web Site Unites Progressives to Defeat Bush
September 20, 2004--A coalition of activists are launching today www.votepair.org, a Web-based effort to unite progressives toward a common goal: defeating George W. Bush in the 2004 general election. Following a model that gained national and international attention during the 2000 election and developed and run by 20 volunteers from New York to Hawaii, votepair.org encourages citizens to vote strategically--just as political candidates and campaign managers do.
The vote-pair strategy mobilizes votes for Green Party candidate David Cobb, Independent/ Reform candidate Ralph Nader, and Democratic candidate John Kerry--without splitting the progressive vote in a way that helps reelect George W. Bush. Through its Web site, the vote pair effort builds a political coalition of progressives that crosses the boundaries of both states and political parties.
Democrats in states that are safe for George W. Bush (such as Texas) or John Kerry (such as New York) "pair up" with Cobb or Nader supporters in swing states, where a handful of votes could make the difference between a Bush or Kerry victory (such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Florida). The paired safe-state voters make a personal decision to vote for Nader or Cobb, while paired swing-state voters make a personal decision to vote for Kerry. Votepair.org arranges matches among these voters, allowing pairs to get to know one other and to develop a level of personal trust that each side will fulfill his/her pledge.
The organizers of votepair.org believe that strong third parties are critical to the nation's future and that citizens have the right to use their votes strategically--particularly under an Electoral College system that effectively ignores the views of many voters in presumed safe states and that can override the popular vote, as was the case in the 2000 presidential election.
"We strongly support the vote pair idea because it helps put the American voter back in the driver's seat and reflects an essential tenet of democracy that is forgotten all too often: every vote counts," says Sarah Newman, founder of the group Greens for Kerry. "Whether they plan to vote for Nader, Cobb, or Kerry, progressives understand that the policies of the Bush Administration have been harmful to everything we stand for. Vote pairing is a way for us to unite, support our preferred candidates, and ensure that our voices are heard."
In 2000, vote-pairing sites such as NaderTrader.org, WinWinCampaign.org, and VoteExchange.org helped 36,000 voters (including 1,400 in Florida) exchange pledges to boost the vote count for both Al Gore and Ralph Nader. This year they are confident that they will do even better.
"Instead of operating individual sites as in 2000, this year we decided that we could have a much bigger impact by joining forces," said Jeff Cardille, who ran NaderTrader.org in 2000. "This is a very well-planned effort involving many skilled people--computer experts, lawyers, activists, writers--committed to seeing political change on November 2. We hope that Bush loses by a significant margin, but if it's close again, progressive voters united through votepair.org could make the difference in the final outcome."
Available for interviews (see contact information above):
Marc Randazza is a lawyer focusing on First Amendment, Media, Internet, and Gaming Law. He has worked as both a journalist and a teacher of journalism and communications and is the author of numerous publications and law review articles on First Amendment and media law, negotiation theory, and property law issues. Mr. Randazza currently practices in Florida. He is involved with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Society of Professional Journalists, the First Amendment Lawyers Association, and the Free Speech Coalition, and serves on the Media and Communications Law Committee for the Florida Bar.
Jamin Raskin is a professor of Constitutional Law at American University's Washington College of Law and Co-Director of its Program on Law and Government. Mr. Raskin specializes in the First Amendment, education law, and law of the political process, and is a former Assistant Attorney General of Massachusetts and General Counsel of the National Rainbow Coalition. He is co-author (with John Bonifaz) of The Wealth Primary and has played a key role in campaigns and cases on campaign finance reform, the right of citizens living in the District of Columbia to be represented in Congress, and enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.
Carnet Williams is a consultant based in Hawaii specializing in technology-related strategic planning. In 2000, Mr. Williams helped develop and run the WinWin Campaign Web site to promote strategic voting. He has practiced as an environmental lawyer in Eugene, Oregon, and is a co-founder of NetCorps, a nonprofit providing technology support and training to socially progressive organizations. Mr. Williams has been active in online advocacy for several years, including in the Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network (NTEN), and has developed several online advocacy tools.