[fla-left] [news] Constituent puts vote up for sale on eBay (fwd)

Michael Hoover hoov at freenet.tlh.fl.us
Sat Aug 19 06:18:51 PDT 2000

forwarded by Michael Hoover

> Constituent puts vote up for sale on eBay
> August 16, 2000
> Web posted at: 6:46 PM EDT (2246 GMT)
> By Richard Stenger
> CNN.com Writer
> (CNN) -- A Maryland voter protesting political corruption vows to hawk his
> ballot in the 2000 general election to the highest bidder on the Internet.
> But the electronic auction could prove costly to buyer and seller, possibly
> landing both parties in jail, state authorities say.
> A seller identified as "apragmatic" on the auction site eBay posted the
> following description on August 15:
> "The 2000 election vote of one U.S. citizen who is a registered voter in
> Maryland in the United States. You may specify whom I vote for in the
> presidential and all other elections in my district, by name or by party.
> Why should the American citizen be left out? Congressmen and senators
> regularly sell their votes to the highest bidder. Democracy for sale!"
> By Wednesday evening, 20 bids after its original posting, the price had
> risen from $5 to $10,100.
> Vote selling and purchasing violates Maryland and U.S. laws, so will eBay
> pull the item from its site before the sale concludes on August 25?
> EBay has removed questionable items in the past, including human organs.
> However, representatives from the San Jose, California-based auction site
> were not available for comment Wednesday.
> The seller spoke with CNN.com after he was contacted via the e-mail address
> listed at eBay.
> "It's more of a political prank than anything," said Bryan Ward of
> Ellicott, Maryland. "I expect eBay to cancel it some time. I ended up doing
> it as a statement against the extreme influence of corporate financing in
> politics."
> The escapade could lead to serious consequences.
> Anyone who sells or offers to sell a vote in Maryland faces up to $1,000 in
> fines and one year in prison, according to Judith Arnold, an assistant
> attorney general in the state.
> And an official with the Maryland Board of Elections said the case would be
> referred to the attorney general's office.
> "If they do, they will be taking it far more seriously than I was," Ward
> said.
> Vote buyers should beware as well. Such political purchases violate federal
> law and can lead to five-year prison sentences. The practice is also
> illegal in Maryland.
> "On both sides, the buyer and the seller would be guilty of violating the
> election code," said Arnold.
> Anyone attempting to purchase a vote in the state could face penalties of
> up to $2,500 and imprisonment of up to five years, she said.
> Despite the potential consequences, the incident has already spawned a
> copycat; Bigwillymc of Washington on Wednesday posted a vote for sale on
> eBay too. The asking price: $5.

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