How it works
The idea is simple. We want to let Green and Labour supporters swap votes in ways that boost both of their parties and gives the best possible chance of stopping the Conservatives from winning the election.
Only some Labour and Green supporters live in seats where their vote is likely to make a difference to which MP will win in their constituency. In others everyone knows which party will win. First-past-the-post elections mean that votes only make a difference in a few battleground seats.
This is particularly tough for new parties. Even a significant share of the national vote does not translate into seats. And what’s worse, those who live in battleground seats face the dilemma of voting for the party they most want to support or casting the most effective vote against the big party they dislike the most.
In this close election, even the results in a few seats could make the difference between David Cameron continuing as prime minister or not. In many key battleground seats this gives Green voters a dilemma. Do they vote for the party they most support and help build its national vote – or vote in a way most likely to stop the Conservatives returning to government?
But what if a Green supporter in a Labour battleground swaps their vote with a Labour supporter in a safe seat? The Green supporter in a Labour battleground helps Labour win to keep out the Conservatives. The Labour supporter in a safe seat votes Green to boost the Green national vote share across the country. It’s win-win. This is where VoteSwap comes in.
We cannot guarantee that people will honour the swaps they make on this site. But we know if they do it gives both Labour and Green supporters a greater chance of kicking the Conservatives out of government in May 2015, and boosting their respective parties at the same time.
Of course not all seats fall into the categories outlined above. The choices in Wales and Scotland are obviously different so VoteSwap only concerns itself with English seats.
Some seats are being targeted by both Greens and Labour. VoteSwap generally takes no sides in these, and simply provides information about the constituency. (The exception is Brighton Pavilion, where we recognise its special status as the only seat current held by the Greens and the party's sole foothold in Parliament.)
In some seats a Lib Dem vote may be the most effective way to stop a Tory MP. In others people may be looking for the best tactical vote against UKIP. Other seats involve Respect or the National Health Action Party. None of these neatly fit with VoteSwap’s approach, and in these cases we provide information but do not facilitate vote swaps other than between Green and Labour.
And as the Lib Dems have not ruled out another coalition with the Conservatives, in the few seats where Labour is targeting a Lib Dem MP we do advocate a vote swap.
Our approach means that VoteSwap offers swaps in more than 500 seats in England.