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Fancy a bit of "orgiastic vote-swapping"?

Fancy a bit of "orgiastic vote-swapping"?

There are plenty of Websites on the Internet encouraging Britons to swap sexual partners. Now, similar sites are urging them to swap votes.

Marginalised by the country's winner-takes-all electoral system, voters in some parts of the country are indulging in what one activist describes as "orgiastic vote-swapping".

For example, a Labour voter who realises that the party has no chance of beating the Conservatives in his or her constituency agrees to vote for the Liberal Democrats in a bid to keep the Conservatives out.

In exchange, a Liberal Democrat somewhere else in the country agrees via Email to vote Labour for the same reason.

Several Websites have emerged to encourage vote-swapping and to bring potential "voter Valentines" together.

Jason Buckley, who runs www.tacticalvoter.net, says he hopes to swing several marginal seats away from the Conservatives when the country goes to the polls next Thursday.

His main targets are Taunton and Orpington, where the Conservatives have majorities of less than 300.

"Most people using the site are simply swapping their own vote but we've also had quite a few couples willing to swap their votes together," he told Reuters.

"They're engaging in orgiastic vote-swapping up and down the country, exchanging their democratic juices."

Another site, www.votedorset.net, encourages similar electoral promiscuity in Dorset, home to several marginal seats.

The site, set up by Labour activist and folk-rock musician Billy Bragg, encourages visitors to "Find your voter Valentine in Dorset", and allows people to advertise online for willing electoral partners in neighbouring constituencies.

Critics say such sites undermine democracy, but Buckley argues the growth of vote-swapping is simply a response to an unfair democratic system.

There is no element of proportional representation in Britain. Voters elect candidates in their local constituencies rather than nationally, meaning a vote for one party in the stronghold of another is virtually useless.

Vote-swapping favours Labour and the Liberal Democrats because their voters tend to have more in common than they do with Michael Howard's Conservatives and are therefore more likely to swap.

"It takes two to tango," Buckley said. "And no one wants to tango with Michael Howard."

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