Law is Cool – Podcast #14

A stir was created in the federal election when a group of progressive voters started a Facebook group to facilitate vote swapping. Elections Canada investigated the matter and concluded that vote swapping is legal, but cautioned voters that there is no way to be sure that your swap is being honoured.

The practice has been controversial among progressive voters. As the blogger Dipper Chick put it, “the only thing less representative than a first-past-the-post system, is an FPTP system that’s been $%&@’ed with.”

But other progressive voters see strategic voting (and vote swapping, in particular) as an effective way to prevent the Conservative Party from winning a majority government. One of the people in support of vote swapping is the author of the blog More Notes from Underground. He spoke to Omar Ha-Redeye about the practice at a recent Progressive Bloggers barbeque.

Dan and Omar talked about the implications of our first past the post system and the challenges it presents to small parties who do not enough concentrated support to win seats. This led to a discussion about the prospects of changing our electoral system to a mixed-member proportional (MMP) system.

5 Comments on "Law is Cool – Podcast #14"

  1. Less than a week ago, Jack Layton himself alluded to the possibility of a coalition to oust the Conservatives,

    Well, you know what, I’ve worked with any other party… You roll up your sleeves and you try to solve a problem.

    I think right now the problem we have is Stephen Harper and his Conservatives. They’re taking the country down the wrong path. They’re much too close to a (U.S. President) George Bush style foreign policy when it comes to the war in my view.

    Jason Cherniak, a renowned Liberal lawyer and commentator, said in a post this past Friday,

    All this being the case, it is time for those of us who want to defeat Stephen Harper to put our personal differences aside and vote strategically….
    Please also note that this only works if we are honest with ourselves…
    Strategic voting only works if it is actually strategic.

    Is it possible? Could strategic voting actually keep Conservatives out?

    Tonda MacCharles said recently in The Star,

    Most respondents (66 per cent) believe a Harper-led majority would expand private health care and cut arts funding (64 per cent)…

    More than half of Liberal voters (54 per cent), and almost half of NDP (47 per cent), and Green (44 per cent) voters would seriously consider “strategically” switching their votes against their preferred candidate if it looks like another party has a better shot at winning, and could block a Conservative…

    “When you look at it, there are 60 per cent of Canadians who don’t want to vote for the Tories,” said Canseco.

    The problem for Harper’s rivals is that his opposition is split among four parties in key regions, he said.

    One thing the majority of Canadians (as opposed to the majority vote) seem to agree on, a Harper majority would be bad for everybody. Except for the Conservative elites, of course.

  2. In fairness, Layton was referring to the possibility of cross-party cooperation after (not during) an election. I think that the long-term lesson here is that our electoral system is giving us results that don’t reflect the needs and preferences of voters.

    My personal opinion is that I am against strategic voting, especially since most voters do not have a realistic idea of which candidates are competitive in their riding. However, I think that those who endorse strategic voting would do well to check out just before E-Day, as Greg Morrow puts out a “strategic voting guide” which lists the ridings in which strategic voting makes sense. These lists are based on his historically reliable election modeling.

  3. BTW, Omar, I love the background convos in your interview, where you can clearly hear the words “Twitter” and “Facebook”… very Web 2.0! I wish I could have been at the BBQ.

  4. Yes, you’re entirely right about the Layton quote, but it does hopefully reflect a shift in thinking among the Center/Left in the realization that there is more in common that there are differences.

    I definitely wish you were at the BBQ; it was a very tech-savvy group, and we had some interesting exchanges.

  5. Unfortunately I missed the only chance I had to attend on of the PB get-togethers when I was still in Ontario and now that I am in Winnipeg, the odds of me getting to come to any in the near future are slim to nil. :(

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