When I vote in the general election, I’m hoping that my vote will have a double whammy impact. Not only will I be hoping that the pro-Brexit Conservative sitting-MP in my Sherwood constituency gets defeated but I will also be keeping an eye out for the same thing happening to his Conservative colleague down in North Devon.
Don’t worry, I’m not breaking the law by voting in two places. Instead, I am hoping to pair up with ‘Kate’ in North Devon. I’ve not met Kate but both of us have registered on swapmyvote.uk. She wants to vote Labour but it’s a wasted vote given the electoral maths down there and I want to vote Liberal Democrat but face the same issue here in Sherwood.
So we’re ‘vote swapping’. Both of us are content enough to vote for a party that is not our first choice in the hope that it will maximise the vote against the party neither of us want to see returned. So how does it work? You need a facebook or twitter account to register on swapmyvote.uk although they are hoping to add an email-only log-in soon. Swapmyvote say this is so that you can know there is a real person at the other end of the swap and, potentially, make contact with your partner. Verification of a mobile phone number is also mandatory.
Once registered, you say which party you would ideally like to vote for (Lib Dems in my case) and which you’d be prepared to vote for (Labour for me as the Lib Dems barely register in Sherwood). The site searches for you and gives you a shortlist of possible vote swappers. The shortlist refreshes with some new choices after two hours if you don’t like any of the options.
You do need to examine the options with care as many of them are not suitable swaps. I waited for three refreshes before choosing Kate. The first two shortlists didn’t really give me any Lib Dem target seats where I thought they could unseat the Conservative MP. But in North Devon they are in a solid second place and they might stand a chance. Now I have to wait and see if Kate accepts my swap. She will no doubt look at the Conservative’s 5,198 majority in Sherwood and consider if that is beatable before accepting. I will get an email if she does want to swap. If she doesn’t or doesn’t respond within 48 hours, swapmyvote.uk will cancel the swap and I can pick someone else.
Swapmyvote.uk is a great idea and, if it works, I will feel like I have made my vote go further. Kate will have voted Lib Dem on my behalf in North Devon where they have a chance of getting in and I will have done likewise for Labour on her behalf in Sherwood. The website can be a but clunky and I found myself pressing the wrong button one or two times but I’d encourage as many people as possible to register to try to find a vote swapping partner. It’s a way of turbocharging your tactical vote but also sticking to your voting principles.