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The Courts Government United States News Politics

Vote Swapping Ruled Legal 496

cayenne8 writes "During the 2000 election, some sites were set up for people across the nation to agree to swap votes, among them and They were established mainly to benefit the third-party candidate Ralph Nader without throwing local elections to George Bush. The state of California threatened to prosecute these sites under criminal statues, and many of them shut down. On Monday the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the vote-swap sites were legal (ruling here, PDF). The court held that '...the websites' vote-swapping mechanisms as well as the communication and vote swaps they enabled were constitutionally protected' and California's spurious threats violated the First Amendment. The 9th Circuit also said the threats violated the US Constitution's Commerce Clause.'"
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Vote Swapping Ruled Legal

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  • by Old VMS Junkie ( 739626 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2007 @04:09PM (#20146545)

    ...have the polling take place over a two or three day weekend instead of Tuesday and have ALL the poll stations open and close at exactly the same time irrespective of time zone...

    No. Just say no.

    I'm a poll worker and we have enough trouble getting volunteers to cover the polls for one day. There is absolutley no way we could get enough bodies to cover for three. As it is now, the senior citizens who work there are fried by 5 and barely make it until 8. If they had to come back the next day, they'd need an ambulance half way through.

  • by Gorm the DBA ( 581373 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2007 @04:12PM (#20146601) Journal're completely wrong.

    As a percentage of cases overturned, the 4th, 5th, 8th, and 10th circuits were overturned by the Supreme Court 100% of the time, the 9th was only 75% of the time.

    The national average is short the 9th Circuit is statistically no more or less likely to be overturned than anywhere else.

    (source: versal_rates.pdf [])

  • by deblau ( 68023 ) <> on Tuesday August 07, 2007 @04:36PM (#20146971) Journal
    And so is the summary. Here's the quote:

    The 9th Circuit also said the threats violated the US Constitution's Commerce Clause.
    This statement directly contradicts the ruling. From the middle of the last paragraph on page 4 of the PDF:

    Because we conclude that Jones' actions were not sufficiently tailored to advance the State's legitimate interests, we do not reach Appellants' further claims that those actions were an unconstitutional prior restraint, violated the dormant Commerce Clause and were ultra vires under state law.
    The appropriate people have been notified.
  • Re:Cool (Score:5, Informative)

    by tetranz ( 446973 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2007 @04:41PM (#20147035)
    I think the US could benefit from a better voting system but I don't think Instant Runoff Voting as used in Australia is the way to go. IRV might sound good initially but it really doesn't do much for small parties and has some scary consequences [].

    There are lots of different systems but Range Voting [] looks pretty good to me.

    That's only one layer of the discussion. There are several ways it could be implemented in a federal system to elect a president. Unfortunately, its a tedious boring subject for most people.
  • Re:Just Democrats (Score:4, Informative)

    by mosch ( 204 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2007 @04:58PM (#20147281) Homepage
    Incorrect, as this may well throw the election to the Democrats.

    I fail to see how this is a worse result than handing it to the GOP.

    While the GOP pays lip service to Libertarian principles, anybody who has paid attention can clearly see that the GOP tends to spend significantly more money, expand government, and add government power, all at rates that outpace Democrats.

    As such, I see it as a feature, not a bug, that a vote for a Libertarian could get a Democrat instead of a GOPer.
  • by Xonstantine ( 947614 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2007 @05:15PM (#20147519)
    As a Texas resident, the Texas redistricting "scandal" wasn't really much of one. Texas has leaned heavily to the right for the last 20 years, but due to earlier Democratic redistricting every bit as onerous as the redistricting that Republicans were attempted (and actually more so), it's national Congressional delegation was split evenly Republican and Democratic, when actual voting patterns are closer to 65/35 in favor of Republicans. As Republicans captured and held on to state legislatures, Democrats suddenly woke up to the "evils" of redistricting and a subsequent media campaign ensued. Never mind that Democrats have been abusing redistricting power since the New Deal.
  • Re:Just Democrats (Score:4, Informative)

    by mosch ( 204 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2007 @06:13PM (#20148659) Homepage
    Please don't interpret this as a defense of the Republican Party, but you have made this claim twice now without citing a source to back it up.

    Here is a graph of the national debt by year, with the Presidents helpfully color coded. age001.jpg []

    It shows that under Republican rule the debt not only tends to increase, but so does the rate of growth of the debt.

    If you view the graphic in log scale, it flattens some of the current spending, but it also clearly shows that the debt grows faster under GOP rule. []

    A typical Republican answer to all of this is that it's not such a big deal, because the economy as a whole is growing, and as such, one should view the debt as a percentage of GDP. age002.jpg []

    When one does that, it becomes even more clear that the GOP is the big spender of the political parties.

    As for the rest of your claims, I'd simply note that since 2000 the debt has grown by 3.5 trillion dollars. For perspective, total federal tax revenues in 2000 were just about 2 trillion dollars.

    The Republicans are huge spenders. I know they claim otherwise, but the facts neatly disprove those claims.
  • Re:Cool (Score:3, Informative)

    by kubalaa ( 47998 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2007 @06:16PM (#20148715) Homepage [] illustrates clearly some of the really wacky things that can happen with IRV. For example, in certain situations, a shift in the public opinion towards a certain candidate can actually cause that candidate to lose.
  • by JamesRose ( 1062530 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2007 @06:26PM (#20148877)
    Alabama- Population- 4,557,808- Electoral College votes - 9 - Votes Per Electoral College Votes- 506,423.11111111111111111111111111
    Alaska- Population- 663,661- Electoral College votes - 3 - Votes Per Electoral College Votes- 221,220.33333333333333333333333333

    So Basically a person in Alaska has twice the amount of say that a person in Alabama has, that's right, in terms of how your country is run, you vote is worth less than half of what it is worth in Alaska if you are in alabama. And I just took the first two states in the alphabet! Really, now how is that a good system, especially when it gets people like George Bush in power when he lost by the popular vote.

    Infact, I haven't done the maths, but I reckon if you worked out all the ratios, that if you positioned your supporters strategically in the states where votes are worth more, you could actually win an election with around 10% less votes than the party with the most votes.
  • Preferential (Score:2, Informative)

    by medge_42 ( 173874 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2007 @08:43PM (#20150493) Homepage
    It is easy to vote for third party candidates and still ensure your vote counts: Preferential voting. Makes things fairer.
    So, to improve the democratic process in the US you introduce preferential voting, eliminate the electoral college and make voting compulsory.
    This is how it works in Australia.
  • Re:Just Democrats (Score:3, Informative)

    by xappax ( 876447 ) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @09:44AM (#20155727)
    The latest example is the Republicans, since they lost, you'd think they'd be all about finding out why and changing their behavior, but that's certainly not happening.

    It is happening, but unfortunately the reason the Republicans lost wasn't because they lacked the Libertarian vote, therefore as Machiavellian power-junkies they have no motivation to court Libertarian issues. Instead, they (correctly) perceive the religious right and anti-terrorist patriots as the strongest constituencies right now, so they seek to appeal even more to their concerns.

    As you pointed out, it's not enough that the major party lose. They have to lose for the right reason, and that reason has to be that enough people have formed a libertarian (or green, my preference) voting bloc to deprive the major parties of votes.

    Sadly, it seems to be a race for the bottom, with the American people losing in the end.

    And yes, I am bitter and am trying to stop caring.

    I think you're right, and being bitter is understandable - I am myself, sometimes. But not caring, or trying not to care is flat out unethical - and openly acknowledging it doesn't soften the damage. Perhaps politics is just something we see on CNN and argue about with our peers, but for many, many people the same political battles are a matter of life and death. To throw up our hands and say "This is too frustrating, it makes me sad so forget it!" is to place our own comfort above the very lives of people here and around the world. It seems hyperbolic but it's not, it's the literal truth that we all try to forget.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.