Chicago wants Voteauction gone
- By Kathleen Ohlson
- Oct 10, 2000
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