‘Pair Vote’ aims to help make strategic votes count

CTV.ca 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 .

Filed under: Canada 2011

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