This is a real thing.
Trump Traders is an organization swapping out third-party votes for Hillary votes in battleground states, so that voters have a say, but it keeps Trump from claiming the White House. Through this process of “vote trading,” third parties are still included fairly, but considering our electoral process, strategically elects one candidate over another.
Trading votes is all an agreement between two voters, through an honor system, so this process could really backfire if voters don’t stick to their word.
Is this legal?
Because this is a non-binding agreement between potential voters, this is legal. Trump Traders is just a site that is connecting the voters who openly express how they will be voting on the site. The site prides itself on being an expression of First Amendment rights, because it gives citizens the channel to express their dissatisfaction with candidates as well as our electoral system in general in terms of the electoral college.
Is this ethical?
At first glance, it seems unethical. Using persuasion to try and sway voters seems bad at a glance, but then we look at how the media does it day by day. Behavior is expressed by the receiver of information, therefore, it is the receiver’s responsibility to make the decision in his or her best interests. It is ethical, because we are not taking away any popular vote, which is the democratic factor of our election, but instead tries to impact the electoral college vote. It also seems unethical, because no votes are being swapped for Trump votes. We have third party voters may have voted Republican in past years, however, Republicans have a similar site, called Vote Pact.
Note: The electoral college works on a state winner-take-all system, except for Nebraska and Maine, who divvy out electoral votes by congressional district.
Using this site as a conversation for citizens to express their attitudes toward our election process, is the most important use of the site. As we saw in multiple periods of history, if a majority of citizens are unhappy with something, it is must easier to enact change.
What’s the point?
A semi-short mathematical explanation can help us understand the point of this organization, also known in Political Science literature as Duverger’s Law. Our winner-take-all system will always result in two-party domination. This happens, because the third-party (the weakest party) will try to join one of the two in order to win an entire state.
Historically, states as a whole vote similarly year to year, what we differentiate between “red” and “blue” states. Trump Traders is influencing the battleground states, that don’t always vote in the same pattern. By sending third-party votes to states that are unlikely going to “flip,” and securing votes for Hillary in battleground states, they are able to keep honest to Democracy by offering a one-person, one-vote factor, but attack the electoral college and influence it in their favor, and vice versa for Trump votes by Vote Pact.
Should we change the Electoral College?
I respect these sites for their discussions of the electoral college. I think that using this system de-legitimizes our democratic ideal in the US. We should continue to discuss, brainstorm, and learn from other counties, in order to make elections more democratic.