Vote-swapping site aims to defeat Tories

Tactical voting for the UK's coming general election is moving online with the launch of a new Web site

A vote-swapping site which encourages people to vote tactically in order to prevent the Conservatives winning the forth-coming general election has been launched this week.

Users wishing to vote tactically are registered on the site -- www.tacticalvoter.net -- and paired up via email with someone who is returning the favour by voting tactically in their area. Users pledge to vote tactically for the candidate most likely to defeat the Conservative candidate in their constituency and the site will keep a running total of how many people are voting for which party.

Online voting has long been touted as a way of increasing democracy but to date all governments have shied away from implementing it, claiming the security risks are too high. However many political campaigns have found a new lease of life via the Net, notably the anti-capitalist marches in both London and Seattle which were co-ordinated largely online.

The idea for the site was inspired by a online campaign during the US presidential election. Nadertrader.org and votetrader.org had 1,500 Greens pledging to vote Democrat in Florida. According to tacticalvoter.net if the sites had started a few weeks earlier, they might have gathered the small number of extra swappers needed to keep George Bush out of the Whitehouse.

According to the Web site vote-swappers have "nothing to lose but a Tory MP". "There are dozens of UK seats with majorities of under 2000 that could very easily be swung by voteswappers -- contributing to a historic Tory meltdown that might bring them to their senses and stop the party dragging British politics towards the right," reads the introduction to the site.

The Conversative party has been outraged by the site and called on the Electoral Commission to investigate immediately. However, according to the Electoral Commission the site is perfectly legitimate. "There is nothing illegal about it. People are entitled to use their vote in any way they wish," a spokesman told ZDNet News.

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