Thousands of Americans are legally and digitally trading votes to ensure a victory for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The system, known as "vote trading," has crystallized into a movement to keep Republican nominee Donald Trump from becoming president.
For example, through Trump Traders or a similar vote trading website, an anti-Trump voter who is from a swing state and an intended third-party candidate voter could be matched with a pro-Clinton voter in a safe Democratic state. The idea is that the two individuals swap votes to give Clinton and the third-party candidate an advantage in the final analysis.
The third-party candidate voter who dislikes Trump would vote for Clinton in the swing state she resides in, doing her part to keep Trump out of the White House, while the Clinton supporter in the Democratic state would vote for her counterpart's third-party candidate. Both voters would be delivering more votes to Clinton in a swing state where the vote matters more.
There is no way to confirm the trade swapping participants are voting according to plan, but some people are snapping pictures of their ballots in the states where taking pictures of their vote is legal, Reuters reports.
The vote trading process relies on the fact that the winner of the U.S. presidential election is not determined by the national popular vote, but rather by the number of state electoral college votes going to the victor of each state's presidential election.
The electoral college vote system means the race depends on the vote of a handful of swing states.
As of Nov. 7, Trump Traders had matched 40,000 voters, says co-founder John Stubbs. Keeping in mind the George W. Bush versus Al Gore election that came down to slightly more than 500 votes in Florida in 2000, it is commonly understood that every trade-swapped vote can impact the outcome in a close race.
The practice has been officially deemed legal. In 2007, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled vote swapping falls under the protected expression of free speech.
Vote swapping first made its mark in 2000, when a number of voters sought to hand the election to Democratic nominee Gore and away from the GOP's George Bush while supporting the candidacy of Ralph Nader, the Green Party nominee.
Trump Traders is focusing on the five swing states of North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania.
"By voting tactically in 2016, conscientious Republicans can still prevent the worst-case scenario: Mr Trump taking over the White House and the GOP," Stubbs wrote recently, Australia's ABC Online reports.