Vote swap when your preferred party has no chance to win in your riding.

Archive for April, 2011

Postal Code Lookup Service

We wanted to give a shoutout to James McKinney for his wonderful postal code lookup service. James’ service is invaluable, and he is extremely quick to reply to our requests. Kudos, James!

Our swing riding picks

What a wild and crazy week it’s been for the polls in the final week. Our team has been constantly reviewing polling data from Project Democracy , ThreeHundredEight and Democratic Space as well as funding local polling work by Project Democracy to try and make the best choices in those tight races. In the end, some guesses will be right, some won’t. This isn’t exact science, and why real vote reform would be oh so much nicer than putting in the hundreds of hours our volunteer crew has spent over this past month for a partial fix.

Besides polls, we ranked the list as follows, based on our goals :

  1. Supports Goal #1: Close race involving a Conservative, sorted by closeness (regardless of who is leading). For these ridings, swap votes for the leading non-Conservative candidate.
  2. Supports Goal #2: Swap votes for Elizabeth May’s riding (this will be easily done, since there are so many Green voters outside her riding available).
  3. Supports Goal #3: Close two-way or three-way race not involving a Conservative, sorted by closeness (regardless of who is leading). All parties in the close race will receive swapped votes, if available. For example, in a Bloc-Liberal-NDP close race, Pair Vote will try to swap votes for the Bloc, Liberal and NDP.

Here is our list, in order of swap priority. This means we will match as many voters as we can for the party, then move to the next one on the list. Let us know what you think in the comments.

CBC Radio Active Edmonton

Check out my interview with Peter Brown on the CBC Radio program “Active”

Vote swapping round 1 results are in


APRIL 26, 2011 – has completed their first round of vote pairings.  With a little over a week to go before the federal election, more than 5000 Canadian voters have opted to “power up” their vote by asking to be paired up with other Canadians in a vote swap.

For this election, Pair Vote matches a voter in a close race (swing riding) with one who is not, to maximize voting impact. Both voters ensure a vote for their party of choice, plus one vote has a real chance of electing someone. That’s the best vote swapping can do within our broken voting system.

Total registered: 5741
Total swaps made across 40 swing ridings: 792 (1584 votes)

Numbers breakdown by party:

  • Liberal: 613 swaps
  • NDP: 129 swaps
  • Green: 39 swaps
  • Bloc: 11 swaps

Top 10 riding breakdown:

  • Kitchener–Waterloo 92
  • Guelph 64
  • Kingston and the Islands 43
  • Edmonton Centre 38
  • Kitchener Centre 38
  • Saint Boniface 37
  • Edmonton–Strathcona 34
  • Ottawa–Orleans 33
  • Saanich–Gulf Islands 33

We anticipate 2-3 times our current registration totals by Saturday, April 30, the last day to register at .

Citizens getting engaged

Local residents across Canada have gotten involved to start their own pair voting movements, particularly in Saanich-Gulf Islands where the effort is to get Elizabeth May elected.

“This is my second time voting with Pair Vote. I was satisfied with the conversation that I had with the man in BC who I traded with, and I believe we helped to reinforce the NDP vote in his neighborhood, while satisfying his Liberal intentions here in Toronto. – Luke”

“[Pair Vote is] a very useful tool and I hope it catches on. It’s a way for all Canadians to work together to get the results we really want!!   Additionally, I made a good friend and she and I still keep in touch with each other.  — Cheryl F.”

Local vote swap citizens are available to speak with media. Contact Pair Vote to request an interview.


The volunteer-run, non-partisan Pair Vote effort, which can be found at, has heard the cries of voters who are frustrated with the First Past the Post system and has offered vote swapping as an elegant, legal, and intelligent alternative for people who feel their vote is wasted on election day.

Our goals for this election, in order of priority:

  1. Prevent a false majority Conservative government – this party is the least motivated to reform anything, and the only majority threat.
  2. Elect Elizabeth May as first Green Party member of parliament so approximately one million Canadian voters have an official voice.
  3. For other races (NDP-Liberal, Bloc-Liberal or Bloc-NDP), swap votes.

Statistics tracked on the Pair Vote site indicate that we will be swapping thousands of effective votes in this election, benefiting the Liberals, Greens and NDP most, in ridings where only a few votes can make the difference. Our goal is nothing less than a Parliament whose makeup more closely mirrors the percentage of the popular vote.  In the absence of much-needed electoral reform and proportional representation, Pair Vote is an empowering solution for voters who’d prefer to vote FOR their preferred party instead of against their least-preferred one.

Interested voters –whether you are in a swing riding or not — can register for a swap, learn about how the process works, see stats on those we’ve already registered, and more at

Media Contact

Gerry Kirk
906 379 0798
[email protected]

Alternatives to Vote Pair

We’ve gotten several questions from voters who are using advance polls to cast their ballots for the May 2 election.  Can they still participate in vote swaps?

They can ! … But is not likely the best choice for you, if this is your scenario.  It’s just because of timing: advance polls are being held on April 22, 23, and 25, and we will not be pairing voters up early enough before those dates to give advance voters time to connect with matches, establish trust, and agree to proceed with a swap.

ALL IS NOT LOST, however!  You still arrange a vote swap in a couple of ways:

  1. You can arrange a vote swap with a friend or colleague in another riding on your own, at any time.  Post on your Facebook wall or send an email to your friends asking if any of them may be interested in a swap.  The advantage of this method is that you’re talking to people you already know and trust, so you can have faith that your vote swap partner will stick to your agreement!
  2. You can try the Voteswap Facebook Application .  This application is separate from, but will give you a real-time, complete list of people who are interested in vote swapping and who are comfortable voting for your preferred party.  You can browse a list of possible matches, and then contact a possible partner directly through Facebook.
  3. You can leave a comment on this post, asking people to get in touch with you to make a direct swap.

In short: vote swapping is open to everyone, and while we here at Pair Vote love to help voters connect, we’re not the only method for you to “power up” your vote with a swap!

Local citizen group inspired to bring about real, necessary change. Odds are against them, but doing the right thing is never easy.


Three Saanich-Gulf Islands Residents Unite to Inform Voters of a New Voting Option

Late in this election cycle, a group of residents in Saanich-Gulf Islands have decided it's not too late to inform voters about vote swapping. Why vote swapping? It's the answer to a lot of issues many voters have with strategic voting and could cost Conservative Gary Lunn the election.

Daniel Tourigny, Constance Cooke, and Pamela Millar have had it with vote splitting. Most recently, it cost Liberal candidate Briony Penn the election when the NDP candidate — who withdrew from the race — received votes that would have otherwise likely gone to Penn, a well-known environmental activist. This time around, it's long time activist, lawyer, and Green Party leader Elizabeth May who stands most likely to beat Lunn — but could be another victim of vote-splitting.

That's where vote swapping comes in.

What is a vote swap?

Explains Daniel, "Let's say it looks like Elizabeth May in our riding has the best chance of defeating Lunn, but typically you support the Liberal party. Vote swapping allows you to 'swap' your Liberal vote with a voter in another riding, one who normally votes Green. You mutually agree to vote for each other's preferred party/candidate. In the end, each of you has a better chance of seeing a candidate from your party of choice elected. It's a way to increase the strength of your vote."

Vote swapping has only recently come onto the scene, thanks largely to the internet and social media. Though the trio are concentrating on their hotly-contested home riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands, it's something that could affect swing ridings across the country. At sites such as Pair Vote ( ), their system matches voters from different ridings in an effort to increase the chances that a vote for an NDP candidate, for example, results in an NDP candidate actually winning.

It's win-win, and something the three Saanich-Gulf Islands voters believe has only lack of public awareness standing in the way.

"To me, it's a no-brainer," shares Pamela , "It's not about party politics either. You can be a Liberal or NDP supporter, but in this riding if you'd prefer not to see a Conservative MP represent you, the leading choice is Elizabeth May. On the other hand, I know there's lots of people who support the Liberal or NDP platforms. By vote swapping, they can have it their way and see a Liberal or NDP supported in a riding where that candidate has a shot at defeating the Conservative candidate. In the end, we all win."

To help with their cause of educating the public about vote swapping, the three residents decided to turn to the media for help.

"I don't think many people know about vote swapping. It's an option, and it matters that people know about it. Our country is at stake, and only an informed public can keep our democracy alive," says Connie .

And as for its ethical basis, Daniel added, "This is a step we can do right now, each of us, to make up for an electoral system that needs reform. It's unethical that the representation in parliament does not reflect the will of Canadians. I find it ridiculous that it's come down to deals between Canadians across the country to swap votes. It should be a signal to all parties that democratic and electoral reform has got to be a national topic of discussion, and soon."

Vote swapping resources for voters: Pair Vote and Vote Swap Canada at
Vote swapping information for the media: /for-media/

Media contact: Daniel Tourigny, 250 882 9821 , [email protected]
mailing address: 310-799 Blackberry Rd., Victoria, BC V8X 5J3

How can you help spread the word?

Well take a look at what super supporter Janaya came up with!  She has made her own car ads and lawn signs!!  What can you come up with to help get the vote pair strategy out there??

Hear our Rally Cry!

Again, we are hearing from the Green’s in Saanich-Gulf Islands.  This time there are a group of Green supporters on the ground trying to get other locals to pair their votes:



My name is Dan and I’m in Saanich-Gulf Islands. Recently a few concerned people got together and discussed how to do our best to see a “not Conservative” MP elected, and in this case it’s Elizabeth May who we’re rallying behind.

I cannot speak for my whole group, but personally I believe that vote swapping education could go a long way to seeing the riding go one way versus another. Perhaps even better than traditional political party door-knocking, which seems to have been the “best” way in the past to get votes. There’s only a couple days till the Advanced Polls and not much longer till Election Day, and we’ve come up with some ideas to inform people about vote swapping options, such as by hand-delivering letters to homes with Liberal and NDP signs out front.



Liberals and NDP’ers in Saanich we need you!  Make your vote count in some close ridings across the country!

Pair voting can make their votes count in critical ridings for their preferred parties (for example, Burnaby-Douglas for the NDP; or Kingston and the Islands for the Liberal Party). These swaps give Ms. May a better chance at finally winning the Green Party a seat in the House of Commons, and have the added benefit of also increasing chances for the NDP’s Kennedy Stewart in Burnaby-Douglas and the Liberal Party’s Ted Hsu in Kingston and the Islands.   It’s win-win-win, all around!

Here at Pair Vote, we’ll be doing two rounds of voter-matching before the May 2 election, and the first round is taking place on Monday, April 25.

If you haven’t registered for a swap yet, NOW is the time to do so, at … and if you HAVE registered for a swap, NOW is the time to encourage your friends and colleagues — especially those who live in critical swing ridings — to consider signing up as well.

In an “open letter” to supporters and friends of the Green Party, here’s a concrete example of why our numbers – and the locations of our swappers – matter greatly:

Right now, we have more than 1000 Green voters who want to help Elizabeth May get elected in Saanich-Gulf Islands … but we only have 15 non-Green-but-Green-friendly voters (generally Liberal and NDP) signed up to swap votes in her riding.  Unless this changes, we are limited to a total of 15 votes that can be swapped in favor of Ms May.

How can we fix this, and effect change?

If you are a Green Party supporter, appeal to your Liberal and NDP friends living in Saanich-Gulf Islands.  Ask them to PLEASE consider a swap.  We can make their votes count in critical ridings for their preferred parties (for example, Burnaby-Douglas for the NDP; or Kingston and the Islands for the Liberal Party). These swaps give Ms May a better chance at finally winning the Green Party a seat in the House of Commons, and have the added benefit of also increasing chances for the NDP’s Kennedy Stewart in Burnaby-Douglas and the Liberal Party’s Ted Hsu in Kingston and the Islands.   It’s win-win-win, all around!

Remember: our first round of pairings is taking place on Monday, April 25.  NOW is the time to talk to your friends and colleagues about vote swapping.

If your friends need help understanding how all of this works, point them to our Pair Vote site , or to our FAQ .

Canada AM Pair Vote Visit

‘Pair Vote’ aims to help make strategic votes count News Staff

Date: Thu. Apr. 14 2011 8:57 AM ET

A website is urging frustrated Canadian voters to consider a type of strategic voting that could give them an opportunity to make a difference in closely contested ridings.

Pair Vote is a website that connects individuals who believe their preferred local candidate is unlikely to win a seat in Parliament, a common scenario which renders their vote powerless.

Spokesperson Katya Duhamel told CTV’s Canada AM that Pair Vote helps “empower” voters by giving these individuals the opportunity to swap their votes, in order to make a more meaningful vote in a more competitive riding.

Duhamel said a good example would be the electoral race in British Columbia’s Saanich-Gulf Islands, the riding where Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is trying to win a seat for the first time.

“For the Green supporters, this is an extremely important riding and many Green supporters don’t feel like their vote is going to count in their own riding,” Duhamel told CTV’s Canada AM from Ottawa on Thursday morning.

With Pair Vote, fervent Green supporters from other ridings can offer to vote for their local Liberal, NDP or Conservative candidate, in exchange for a pledge of support for May in the Saanich riding.

Under this scenario, both voters “have some power when they go to the ballot box because their vote is being counted,” Duhamel said.

Duhamel emphasized voters taking part in Pair Vote are given the opportunity to specify what parties they are willing to support, and they are not forced to follow the political whims of their partner.

“You are only going to be voting for a party you feel comfortable with,” Duhamel said.

The Pair Vote concept works on the honour system, as there is no way to confirm if participants follow through on their pledges once they put their vote in the ballot box.

But Duhamel said the people who are seeking out Pair Vote simply want to have more of a say with their vote and she believes their intentions are genuine.

“This is genuine, these are people who want to vote, who feel like they’ve lost power at the ballot box and they don’t feel like they’re being represented in Parliament,” she said.

Duhamel said the people behind Pair Vote ultimately want to see Canada move towards a proportional representation system, so that its democracy more fairly represents the views of its citizens.

“Six million votes in the last election were essentially wasted and I really don’t feel like that is the purpose of a democracy,” Duhamel said.

The Pair Vote website was active in the last election, when some 6,000 participants agreed to swap their vote. It is expected that even more people will take part in the vote-swap process in the current election.

The group claims that its participants helped contribute to electoral victories in B.C. and Alberta.

To read the article on Canada AM’s site click here .

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