Chicago wants Voteauction gone

The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners said last week that it has asked

federal and state attorneys to shut down a Web site that offers votes in

the presidential election to the highest bidder.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney Scott Lazar and Cook County, Ill., State Attorney

Richard Devine said the Chicago board sought "quick action" to prevent Voteauction.com

from continuing operations in Chicago and Illinois.

Under Illinois law, it's a felony to buy and sell votes; violators face

one to three years in prison, according to the board. It's also a federal

violation, punishable with up to five years in prison.

Voteauction.com is an Internet marketplace for the wholesale purchase of

votes. It recruits voters, auctions their votes off in state groups and

ensures that absentee ballots are accurate.

The site's founder, James Baumgartner, said the site was launched because

money for the presidential election was being wasted on advertising. "Voters

were being treated as a commodity, and they might as well get money for

it," said Baumgartner, who said he sold Voteauction.com to Hans Bernhard,

an Austrian businessman, in August.

The site claims that 10,137 voters nationwide have signed up. Illinois has

521 voters signed up, quoting $16.31 for each vote.

New York's Board of Elections shut down the site in that state in August.

Baumgartner said Voteauction.com is protected by the court case of Buckley

v. Valeo, which allows for soft money. "This is a more direct form of soft

money, and soft money is legal, so the site is just as legal," he said.

Distributed by IDG News Service

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