Vote Pair Fri, 03 May 2019 08:59:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Where does Pair Vote go next? /where-does-pair-vote-go-next/ Tue, 13 Sep 2011 08:31:30 +0000 /?p=7 Hey there, please join the conversation on where Pair Vote goes next by adding a comment at the bottom of this post.

Fellow vote reformers, I’ve been avoiding writing this post for far too long. It’s been 5 months since the federal election, where over 8000 people committed to work together and share the power we have as voters. Sadly, our voting intentions were once again denied. You can read the final report on vote swapping in the 2011 federal election here .

What we learned about vote swapping after two federal elections is this – vote swapping has the potential to become a powerful force for change. What we need is to scale participation , so that vote swapping becomes a deciding factor in the kind of government we elect . What we need to do is to go from 8000 to 100,000 vote swappers . That means it’s time to get serious and go beyond a small group of volunteers, and to build and promote a system that puts more power in the hands of voters , a system that political parties and concerned citizen groups embrace for real change.

Governments will then be faced with a choice : yield to vote swapping and its effect on results, or give in and deliver real voting reform. Until we have reform, Pair Vote is here to stay.

Right now, several provinces are holding their elections , with more to be held in 2012. Now is a great time to get some attention to voting reform, and most importantly sign up more people for vote swapping, in time for the next federal election. Ideally we’d be having this conversation months ago, and I regret delaying for so long. I should have given the Pair Vote community the opportunity to take the lead, where I have not been able to. There is still time to make some noise!

At the same time, we need to build the next generation vote swapping system that puts more power and choice in the hands of voters.

Let’s talk! Add your comments below. Register for the newsletter in the side bar to be part of the ongoing conversation. We’ll likely create some sort of collaborative workspace in the near future.

Yours for a strong democracy,

– Gerry Kirk, founder of Pair Vote

Looking back and ahead: final report on 2011 federal election /looking-back-and-ahead-final-report-on-2011-federal-election/ Wed, 18 May 2011 08:32:39 +0000 /?p=8

Advocate analyzes the numbers for vote swapping in 2011′s federal election. Watchdog has verified the claims and endorses them as accurate.

It’s been 2.5 weeks since the election, and the Pair Vote team is still catching its breath. Our small, hard-working team has needed some rest and a chance to refocus on the lives they set aside during the election.

The election brought mixed results. We celebrate the historic election of Elizabeth May, the first Green party member elected to the House of Commons. We lament the false majority Conservative government, elected with only 40% of the vote. The chance for electoral reform at the federal level for now has disappeared.

Yet, the cries for real reform grow louder and stronger. 8000 of you chose not to be a victim of our broken voting system by registering to pair vote. Numerous newspaper editorials, and organized protests like the Day Of Action reveal that citizens are not satisfied with the status quo.

The efforts of Pair Vote in the last two elections show that vote swapping has the potential to become a powerful force for change. What we need is to scale participation, so that vote swapping becomes a deciding factor in the kind of government we elect. What we need to do is to go from 8000 to 100,000 vote swappers. That means it’s time to get serious and go beyond a small group of volunteers, and to build and promote a system that puts more power in the hands of voters, a system that political parties and concerned citizen groups embrace for real change.

Governments will then be faced with a choice: yield to vote swapping and its effect on results, or give in and deliver real voting reform. Until we have reform, Pair Vote is here to stay.

Much help will be needed along the way. We invite you to be a part of this movement. Start by subscribing to e-mail updates. Help build the next generation vote swapping system. Assist in outreach and marketing efforts.

Thanks again for being a part of this experiment in democratic reform. It’s been our pleasure to serve you. You’ve been a tremendous support, both in words and through generous giving. Your encouragement gave us the energy to keep going when we all felt exhausted.

We invite you to read over our final report below, which outlines the actual results of vote swapping in the federal election.

Yours for a strong democracy,

Gerry and the Pair Vote team

2011 Federal Election Final Report


Our goals for this election, based on the interests expressed by pair voters were (in order of priority) to:

“1. Prevent a false majority by the Conservatives by swapping non-Conservative votes in swing ridings where Conservative party might have won – 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 races mostly irrelevant to these goals (NDP-Liberal, Bloc-Liberal or Bloc-NDP), swap two ineffective votes for two effective votes.

4. Where this is not possible, suggest a swap that makes one vote for an ideologically closely allied party effective against one that is less allied. (This includes swapping Libertarian and Christian Heritage votes to get effective Conservative votes while preserving the small party vote total).”

How did we do?

1. Far-right false majority : A 39.6% minority elected a majority government – 100% of the power. This is not good for democracy. The result does not reflect the intentions of voters. Unlike previous false majorities such as Jean Chretien‘s, the Prime Minister’s party is isolated on the extreme right of the political spectrum, while Chretien had two parties (NDP, Bloc) to his left and two (PC, Reform) to his right. This is a recipe for chaos, as over 60% of Canadian voters support quite similar policies advanced by the four opposition parties in the House.

In retrospect, just over 6200 votes (pending recounts) in 14 federal districts (popularly called “ridings”) gave Mr. Harper this false majority. This is less than half the usual sum of such margins. The total votes swapped by alone in these 14 were 163, meaning 2.62% of the total margin of victory. Pairvote also had an additional 94 orphaned voters in these key ridings, who did not get a match.

2. First elected Green MP : Green supporters got their breakthrough with the election of Elizabeth May in Saanich-Gulf Islands. Pair Vote’s team, including some on the ground in the riding itself, worked especially hard to support Greens who suffered without representation long enough. While Green total national vote was down in this election, this was likely due to strategic shifts to the NDP that weren’t achieved through accountable swaps, and May being shut out of the debate. A swap strategy will be available to Greens in future provincial elections.

May’s margin of victory, over 7000 votes, was greater than the sum of all margins in Harper’s 14 closest victories. In theory, perfect distribution of these excess votes into those 14 would have prevented the false majority, although actually calculating the distribution in advance would have required near-perfect simulation.

Due to minimal demand from voters, and the general collapse of the vote for the Bloc and some small parties with conservative ideals, goals 3 and 4 were also achieved but only on a scale of dozens rather than hundreds of votes.

Voter testimonials

This is my second time voting with vote-pair. 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. We both exchanged an email to confirm our votes to each other after the election. EASY!


“Riding: North Vancouver. Now happily paired with an intelligent voter in Calgary who is going to vote Green Party while I am voting for the Liberal candidate. I feel empowered. PairVote works.


“Just want to let you know how thrilled, grateful and impressed I am with your brilliance and volunteer investment in this initiative. It’s the first time in YEARS that I’ve been excited to vote, buoyed by understanding that my vote authentically counts for more than what desperate strategic voting offered.”

Further testimonials available /voter-stories-can2011/

Swap Statistics

78k unique visitors of during the election, leading to 7522 completed registrations, an extremely high (9.6%) acquisition rate.

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

  • Total registered: 7522
  • Total swaps made across 40 swing ridings: 1713 (3426 votes) (unconfirmed swaps, does not include informal swaps done over final two days of election)
  • Total swaps made across the 14 decisive swing ridings: 163
  • Swaps in favour of, per party:
    • Liberal:1488 swaps
    • NDP: 1367 swaps
    • Green: 838 swaps
    • Bloc: 21 swaps

In order of most total swapped votes:

  • Kitchener–Waterloo 145 (LIB) – Conservative elected, less than 4% more of pop. vote vs Lib. (2144 votes)
  • Kingston and the Islands 125 (LIB) – Liberal Elected less than 5% more of the pop. vote vs Cons. (2651 votes)
  • Guelph 122(LIB) – Liberal Elected less than 10% more of pop. vote vs. Cons (6322 votes)
  • Saanich–Gulf Islands 108 (Green) – Green elected more than 10% more of the pop. vote vs. Cons (7359 votes)
  • Edmonton Centre 98 (LIB) – Conservative elected, more than 20% more of the pop. vote vs. Lib (10918 votes)

In order of greatest provable impact of formally swapped votes:

  • Esquimalt–Juan de Fuca, margin of victory: 406 swapped: 63 (16% of victory margin)
  • Winnipeg South, margin of victory: 696, swapped in: 72 (10% of victory margin)
  • Kitchener–Waterloo, margin of victory: 2144, swapped in: 145 (7% of victory margin)

Swap Statistics from the 14 districts clinching the Conservative majority:

  • Total Registered Voters: 263 (translates to 526 votes)
  • Total Swaps In: 163 (translates to 326 votes)
  • Orphaned participants : 94 (translates to 188 votes)

To see a full listing of swaps please see /voting-intentions/

Summary: We made a difference

Using the first past the post system in a diverse multi-party country does not allow for the majority of the stakeholders to have their say. It threatens our ability to have multi-parties and forces citizens into ‘strategically’ voting, pairing to try and find a way to affect the outcome of the election.

Voter apathy is at another high. 61% of eligible voters took party on May 2, 2011, a mere 2% more than 2008. This is a national shame; The first past the post system is partially to blame. Voter testimonials, above, show that people paired with swing voters felt real excitement and commitment to the process. Some whose votes have provably never counted, now count in ever election. This suggests we could improve turnout with any of these:

  • More party-proportional voting systems (STV, MMP, or hybrids like BSTV+C+L) that count popular vote.
  • Ranked ballots (123/IRV) as used in Green and Conservative leadership elections that count second choices.
  • Runoff elections, as in some US mayoralty elections (San Francisco) or the French presidential race.

Surely any of these proven approaches would be fairer than 6200 voters giving an ideologically-isolated 39.6% the unchecked power of the Prime Minister’s office, including appointment of Senators, Supreme Court justices, and the right to declare war. They would also be superior to a dedicated cadre of vote swappers seizing balance of power.

Pair Vote intends to continue to make a difference, and to continue to oppose false majority government and unfair exclusions of widely-supported parties from the debates, and under-representation of such parties in legislatures.

Next steps will continue to build the grassroots movement toward electoral reform. We are preparing for the Ontario Provincial Elections, October 2, 2011, and intend again to prevent a false majority by any leading party of the far left or right, and intend again to elect Green leaders and deputies to give those voters some voice.

We will include a ranking ballot system to improve and maximize our ability to pair voters, and ask voters for other priorities such as electing women or youth, opposing corruption, enabling transparency and open process.


Pair Vote was started as an experiment by Gerry Kirk, a Canadian who believes our voting system is what ills our democracy. He discovered pair voting was used in US elections and decided to try it in the 2008 federal election in Canada as a way to draw attention to the vote reform issue. The response was tremendous, clearly tapping into a desire people had to make their vote count (see /canada-2008/final-report/ ). Pair Vote was also used in the 2009 BC provincial election, to support the electoral referendum in that province.

Pair vote is 100% volunteer driven by individuals interested in electoral reform and helping to represent the under-represented.

The watchdog organization was started by Andrea Witzke, a Canadian whose son Brandon Witzke was unlawfully imprisoned, deprived of water, physically beaten, and defamed by officials in the press after the G20 in Toronto. A programmer and web developer by trade, Andrea worked to co-ordinate several efforts including the Vote Swap Canada 2011 facebook app, a facebook group widely used in 2008, and some informal swap mechanisms. Thanks to her, these groups are committed to transparent free softwaredevelopment and a robust voter privacy policy that will enable maximum cooperation and coordination in all future elections.’s coordination was also extremely important for press briefings and answering frequent questions from voters and the press. Its FAQ is considered the most complete and authoritative on the subject of strategic vs. swap voting, security and cheating problems, the history of the movement, and how its integrity is assured. It also provided the coordination of data and final reports that made this press release’s verification possible.

Our swing riding picks /our-swing-riding-picks/ Sat, 30 Apr 2011 08:39:09 +0000 /?p=11 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.

Vote swapping round 1 results are in /vote-swapping-round-1-results-are-in/ Tue, 26 Apr 2011 08:44:54 +0000 /?p=13 MEDIA RELEASE

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]

“Vote Swapping” could lead to Elizabeth May’s victory in Saanich-Gulf Islands /vote-swapping-could-lead-to-elizabeth-mays-victory-in-saanich-gulf-islands/ Sat, 23 Apr 2011 08:51:21 +0000 /?p=17 Local citizen group inspired to bring about real, necessary change. Odds are against them, but doing the right thing is never easy.FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

Alternatives to Vote Pair /alternatives-to-vote-pair/ Sat, 23 Apr 2011 08:48:51 +0000 /?p=15 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!

Hear our Rally Cry! /hear-our-rally-cry/ Thu, 21 Apr 2011 08:52:43 +0000 /?p=19 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!

Why people are vote swapping /why-people-are-vote-swapping/ Wed, 06 May 2009 08:57:39 +0000 /?p=22 A roundup of comments submitted by vote swappers:

Kevin Kruger (the worker whacker). Do I need to further explain?

Liberal will most likely win in my riding and my vote will be useless.

I want a Green Party candidate to win in some riding. I am frustrated that a party with a decent percentage of the popular vote has no MLAs or MPs elected.

I support a fair voting system, particularly, BC-STV, as recommended by the Citizens’ Assembly.  Neither of the two major parties supports this, so I don’t want to vote for either one, but a vote for a Green in my riding (Gordon Campbell’s home riding) would be wasted.  I would be prepared to support Mel Lehan (NDP) if I knew that my vote was going to a Green candidate elsewhere, preferably one with a chance of winning (Jane Sterk?  Damian Kettlewell?).

I’m sick of Carole James being my MLA, she doesn’t do anything for us. Ideally I want to vote Green, and would love to swap with a Liberal from Jane Sterk’s riding. She has the best chance for a Green to become an MLA

Well I want somebody in WV-S2S to vote Green for me and in exchange I will vote for a Conservative since West Van-S2S has no Conservatives

Need STV not Liberal – NDP pendulum.

I’m surrounded by people in my riding whom I have nothing in common with and who vote en masse for policies that I am ideologically opposed to and find morally and socially reprehensible. I can’t get my voice heard.  My MLA will always be a shmuck IMHO under the current voting system.

People want real choice, and their votes to matter. That’s why STV must pass. There may not be another chance for real vote reform in our generation.