Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Is vote swapping related to vote selling the way kidney exchange is related to kidney sales? (a blog post by Scott Aaronson on vote swapping)

Here's a blog post from Scot Aaronson's blog "Shtetl Optimized". He points out that although vote trading is illegal, vote swapping seems not to be. (Apparently it's the money that matters, as in kidney exchange versus kidney sales...)

Here are the critical paragraphs in that connection from his post:
"On August 6, 2007, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals finally ruled on a case, Porter v. Bowen, stemming from the California attorney general’s shutdown of  Their ruling, which is worth reading in full, was unequivocal.
Vote-swapping, it said, is protected by the First Amendment, which state election laws can’t supersede.  It is fundamentally different from buying or selling votes."

Here's the whole post, together with some interesting updates added later.

The Ninth Circuit ruled that vote-swapping is legal. Let’s use it to stop Trump.

"Updates: Commenter JT informs me that there’s already a vote-swapping site available:  (I particularly like their motto: “Everybody wins.  Except Trump.”)  I still think there’s a need for more sites, particularly ones that would interface with Facebook, but this is a great beginning.  I’ve signed up for it myself.
Also, Toby Ord, a philosopher I know at Oxford, points me to a neat academic paper he wrote that analyzes vote-swapping as an example of “moral trade,” and that mentions the Porter v. Bowendecision holding vote-swapping to be legal in the US."

Here are two passages from the Ninth Circuit opinion that I found particularly relevant.
The first says that operating vote swapping sites might be protected political speech:

"On the merits, we hold that Jones violated Appellants’ First Amendment rights. The websites’ vote-swapping mechanisms as well as the communication and vote swaps they enabled were constitutionally protected. Although California certainly has valid interests in preventing election fraud and corruption, and perhaps in avoiding the subversion of the Electoral College, these interests did not justify the complete disabling of the vote-swapping mechanisms."

The second addresses the issue of "corruption":
"Corruption. Beginning with the State’s anticorruption interest, we reiterate that we construe this interest to encompass only the prevention of illicit financial transactions such as the buying of votes or the contribution of large sums of money to legislators in exchange for political support. See WRTL, 127 S. Ct. at 2676 (Scalia, J., concurring in part and concurring in the judgment); NCPAC, 470 U.S. at 497; Buckley, 424 U.S. at 26-27. So defined, this interest was not advanced by the threatened prosecution of the owners of and The websites did not encourage the trading of votes for money, or indeed for anything other than other votes. actually included a notation that “It is illegal to pay someone to vote on your behalf, or even get paid to vote yourself. Stay away from the money. Just vote” (emphasis in original). And there is no evidence in the record, nor has the Secretary argued, that any website users ever misused the voteswapping mechanisms by offering or accepting money for their votes. "

HT: Nicole Immorlica

1 comment:

Péter Biró said...

There are some recent theoretical papers on vote swapping, e.g.