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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Vote barter is A-OK, but don't go making money.

Elections Canada has ruled that online vote-swapping is legal in response to the creation of a Facebook group formed to help users vote strategically to stop Conservative MPs from being elected while still allowing them to vote for their party of choice.

Hugh McIntyre blogged on the voteswap last week and why he disagrees with the premise and specifically with strategic voting. I'm of the opinion that Hugh's views on strategic voting could easily be repeated with the word "strategic" removed and still be 100% accurate.

Unfortunately for Canadians, and especially Canadians like me who plan to exercise their "civic duty" by abstaining and saving the taxpayers of Canada $1.75 but could be persuaded to take a different course of action were it possible to make it worth their while, Elections Canada goes on to remind us that politicians continue to have a monopoly on the right to buy votes with cash.

Between voters, while a market of votes for votes is fine and dandy, you'd better not try to get anything else for that fine, symbolic right you have.

This is, of course, nonsense. The rules implicitly admit that votes are valued differently by different people in different places and can be traded around to take advantage of that fact and there's no principled reason to not take the next step and allow any and all sorts of trading.

Value is value, whether it's something I can hold in my hand or something that just makes me feel good. That's why I exchange money (material value) to hear the trumpet guy downtown play the Super Mario Brothers theme song (non-material value). To think that exchanging only non-material items is somehow different betrays a lack of understanding of the basics of markets and how they lead to the creation of happiness - an economic concept people know far too little about.

Allowing the vote swap is a good first step, but if Canadians have the right to trade votes at all, they should be allowed to trade them however they see fit, and no bureaucrat or politician should stand in their way.

UPDATE: Apparently I'm not the only one that feels this way, but Elections Canada has filed a report against a BC man who put his vote up for sale on Craigslist and went on to say that "improperly" giving someone else your vote is illegal. I think we can forgive the ad poster for being confused about what that means.

Posted by Janet Neilson on September 18, 2008 in Canadian Politics, Current Affairs | Permalink


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Another proud dissenting electorate! Good for you, Janet.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-09-19 12:39:14 AM

Thanks for the good read, I will definitely return for an update!

Posted by: barley | 2008-09-19 6:36:07 AM

Be that as it may, it looks like a majority of Canadians are going to strategically vote for the CPC in an effort to get them elected.

That could work.

Posted by: John V | 2008-09-19 9:58:29 AM

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