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Saturday, July 05, 2008

What Is It Worth?

Your vote, that is. For this college student, not what he expected (unless he expected 5 years and a $10,000 fine).
A University of Minnesota student claimed it was all a joke when he put his vote in this fall’s presidential election up for sale on the Web auction site eBay. But prosecutors didn’t see the humor in the stunt.

Max P. Sanders, 19, was charged with a felony Thursday in Hennepin County District Court after allegedly asking for a minimum of $10 in exchange for voting for the bidder’s preferred candidate. “Good luck!” Sanders wrote under the eBay handle zepdrummer612. “You’re (sic) country depends on You!”

Sanders was charged with one count of bribery, treating and soliciting under an 1893 state law that makes it a crime to offer to buy or sell a vote.
Honestly, this struck me as humorous. No, it's not that I thought his little auction was funny (although I do expect that he meant it as a joke). The chuckle came from the simple facts that votes are bought and sold every election.

Sometimes, it's the outright buying of a super delegate's vote.
"While it would be unseemly for the candidates to hand out thousands of dollars to primary voters, or to the delegates pledged to represent the will of those voters, elected officials serving as superdelegates have received about $890,000 from Obama and Clinton in the form of campaign contributions over the last three years," the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics reported today.
That is pretty cut and dry, isn't it? Well, except in Clinton's case- I don't think all that money actually bought her anything but a few more days on the campaign trail.

Ofttimes, the "buying" of votes is a bit more subtle. Unfortunately, many (most?) voters today use the "what will this candidate give me?" criterium instead of the "what can this candidate do for this country?" standard. Why do you think candidates promise the moon during the campaigns? More welfare... more jobs... more federal dollars for a pet project... healthier kids... healthier water... healthcare... prescription drug coverage.... You name it, they'll promise to deliver. Whether or not they will (or even can) is another story.

So, what's the difference between what this kid did and what voters do every election? He was just offering the cash discount.

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