Saturday, July 05, 2008

Teen Arrested for Selling Vote on E-Bay

A 19-year old in Minneapolis has been arrested and charged with the felony of trying to sell his vote (CNN video story here). The story has the usual phony melodrama ("It's an attack on Democracy itself!"). I assume e-Bay has removed the auction, as is usual with illegal items and a brief search for it on my end has failed.

This has happened before, and what is astounding is the price a vote will fetch. In 2000, a Maryland vote-seller was up to $10,000 after 20 bids before being shut down. Imagine what an Ohio, Florida, or Michigan voter could have made!

I am not at all convinced that our democracy would be worse off if you could sell your vote. I'm not in favor of it, but you wouldn't see me marching in the streets to demonstrate against it and I would surely sell my vote. It would be fascinating though, because it would cause an interesting turn in campaigning as the dominant strategy for candidates would be to try to motivate their base to purchase votes from the median voter and other non-voters rather than make direct contributions.

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