Want to vote for Gary Johnson but worried about ending up with a President Trump? There's a website for that.
Online platform TrumpTraders.org connects swing-state voters with voters in solidly blue (or red) states to accomplish a common goal: keep Donald Trump out of the White House. Launched by the pair of former George W. Bush administration officials behind Republicans for Clinton 2016, it lets Jill Stein and Gary Johnson supporters in battleground states have their voices heard -- without diminishing Hillary Clinton's chances at winning.
"We're connecting voters with the same end-goal objective, and that is for Donald Trump," said John Stubbs, cofounder of R4C16.
Trump Traders facilitates vote trading among citizens in different states. It focuses mainly on connecting voters in battlegrounds Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Nevada with individuals in places like California. Once a match is made, they have a conversation about how they will vote. The swing-state voter goes for Clinton, and the safe-state voter goes for Johnson, Stein or whoever their counterpart prefers.
No money changes hands, which would be illegal.
"Campaigns and politicians have been using the electoral college to their advantage. This is voters doing the exact same thing," said Stubbs.
Stein and Johnson need to get 5% of the popular vote in order to secure federal funding for their parties in 2020, and their supporters trading votes doesn't affect that. Trump Traders has called on the Green Party and Libertarian Party candidates to endorse vote trading as the platform approached 20,000 signups.
"Gary Johnson doesn't want to go down in history as a worse version of Ralph Nader, responsible for handing the nuclear codes over to a xenophobic megalomaniac," Stubbs said. "The third party candidates who endorse vote trading will have a real impact on the race."
The majority of the votes being traded are for Johnson.
The 2000 presidential election saw a similar phenomenon with "Nader Traders," through which supporters of Green Party candidate Ralph Nader in states like Maine, Michigan and Oregon swapped votes with Al Gore supporters in red states like Texas and Louisiana. Technological advancements and social media will help make vote exchange efforts more successful this time around, Stubbs hopes.
"One of the real reasons why this is possible now in a way that was more difficult before, in 2000, when a similar experiment failed with Nader traders is social networking and online verification," he said. Trump Traders are verified through Facebook.
The R4C16 team is dedicated to helping elect Clinton on November 8, and while Trump Traders encourages vote swapping, their ultimate goal is for constituents to vote for the former secretary of state directly -- especially Republicans repelled by Trump.
"The main focus of our group has been from the beginning and continues to be talking to Republicans who are opposed to Donald Trump and convincing them that the only thing between Trump and the White House is Hillary Clinton," said Stubbs. "In no way should any Republican who knows that Trump is a catastrophe be voting for anyone who isn't Hillary Clinton. You can't write in Ronald Reagan, you can't write in Jeb Bush or your college roommate. You have to vote for Clinton."
Stubbs is a former senior adviser to the U.S. Trade Representative under Bush and currently managing partner at Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm Romulus. He launched R4C16 with Ricardo Reyes, former USTR deputy assistant for public and media affairs, earlier this year. Reyes has worked as a spokesman for Silicon Valley giants like Tesla (TSLA) , Square (SQ) and Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google.
The pair encourages Republicans to vote their party down ballot but has had a visceral reaction to Trump.
"He has taken over the Republican Party," Stubbs said. "The parasite has eaten the host."