Remember "vote-swapping"? That was a free-speech experiment launched by a number of websites during the 2000 presidential campaign between George W. Bush and Al Gore. The websites allowed third-party supporters of Ralph Nader in swing states to strategize with major-party voters in "safe" states about "trading" their votes.

A threat of criminal prosecution by the California secretary of state shut the websites down. Nearly seven years later, a federal court decided the Constitution protects vote swaps — just in time for 2008.

"Technology changes the way politics work, but it doesn't alter the basic principles of democracy," said the ACLU/SC's Peter Eliasberg, who argued the case.

The decision will be an important precedent protecting the right of website operators and voters to maintain and use such sites in future presidential elections.

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