Vote traders aim to block Trump presidency

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Voters who support third-party candidates in crucial battleground states are swapping their votes across state lines in a bid to keep Donald Trump out of the White House.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - They call themselves "Trump Traders". An organisation that, via a website, facilitates vote swapping between voters in key battleground states and so-called "safe states".

The target: supporters of third party candidates who don't want to inadvertently throw the election to Republican candidate Donald Trump.

Bret Lehne is voting for the Green Party's Jill Stein in Democrat-leaning New York in exchange for his friend's cousin voting for Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, a key swing state.

Many of his friends are trading their votes as well.

"If we can use it to further some other goal to trade it to Iowa, to trade it to Florida, that would be just making our democracy go a little further in this electoral college we're stuck in," said Mr Lehne.

A similar scheme was tried in 2000.

"Nader Traders" used vote swapping to try to prevent Ralph Nader supporters from siphoning votes from Democrat Al Gore.

In the end, it all came down to Florida where George W. Bush won by 537 votes.

Trump Tradersn co-founder John Stubbs said, "If those sites had been successful in switching just 538 more people, Al Gore would've been president. And that, that fact I think showed the power that these exchanges could potentially have."

Mr Stubbs points to last year's Canadian election where strategic voting helped catapult Justin Trudeau's Liberals to victory.

But many critics lambast vote trading as "undemocratic" and "rigging the election".

Election law expert Kenneth Gross says it's perfectly legal so long as there's no exchange of gifts.

"It sort of instinctively has a little odor about it. But it isn't a rigging of the election," said Mr Gross.

But, Mr Gross says, legal challenges could arise if vote trading becomes a robust enough force.

For now, vote traders need only have one worry: that their trading partner hold up their end of the bargain when they enter that voting booth.

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