posted Sep 22, 2000

Thousands Sign Up to Sell Votes Political Speech9/22/2000; 2:27:06 PM 'Boasting of the more than 6,000 Americans who have signed up to auction off their presidential votes to the highest bidder -- illegal activity under the laws of every state in the union -- Voteauction is now detailing its plans to begin an outreach campaign. 'Using its "Voter Empowerment Kits" and "Action Teams," the company claims in a press release that it can reach more potential customers and facilitate voter fraud without the intervention of an online middleman.'I really don't know how to react to this site's antics... amusement? disgust? horror? Most (post-)modern art attempts to provoke that reaction, and fails miserably, so by the art community's standards, is one of the best pieces of art I've seen in a long time. (I suppose this is a relatively unusual way of looking at it )I found this tidbit interesting:'The profile of both sides of the Internet auction does jibe with the history of vote-buying in America, said Larry J. Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist and author of the 1996 book Dirty Little Secrets: The Persistence of Corruption in American Politics. 'Especially telling is the fact that the payoff-per-vote, as tallied on the site, is settling into the $10-$20 range -- the amount of cash an individual vote tends to command in other, non-Internet-based schemes. '"It always seems to be about $20," Sabato said. "That must be the going rate. And when you think about it, it makes sense. Because 10 bucks is not what it used to be. With 20 bucks you can get a pretty good meal, if you know where to go. And I think that's how some people conceive of it. Their vote may be worth a meal. It's sad, but that may be true."'At that price, it is still feasible for the rich to buy votes. If we all would value our votes at say $1000, nobody could buy off enough people to matter (since not every voter represents a voter who would not have voted that way on their own). In decision theory, you might look at vote fraud laws as an attempt to force people to value their vote at more then anyone will pay, as the act of selling a vote might include paying the price of significant jail time.Another interesting note... of all the topics we've seen that will require international agreements on how to handle, this is the most immediately importent I've yet seen. Free speech, patents, and all the rest I cover is importent, but we can muddle along for a while. Wide-scale vote fraud tears countries apart; just look at the countries it occurs in to see that. How the US government reacts could serve as a defining moment in the Great International Internet Law question.


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