The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners said last week that it has askedfederal and state attorneys to shut down a Web site that offers votes inthe presidential election to the highest bidder.
In a letter to U.S. Attorney Scott Lazar and Cook County, Ill., State AttorneyRichard Devine said the Chicago board sought "quick action" to prevent Voteauction.comfrom continuing operations in Chicago and Illinois.
Under Illinois law, it's a felony to buy and sell votes; violators faceone to three years in prison, according to the board. It's also a federalviolation, punishable with up to five years in prison.
Voteauction.com is an Internet marketplace for the wholesale purchase ofvotes. It recruits voters, auctions their votes off in state groups andensures that absentee ballots are accurate.
The site's founder, James Baumgartner, said the site was launched becausemoney for the presidential election was being wasted on advertising. "Voterswere being treated as a commodity, and they might as well get money forit," 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 has521 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 Buckleyv. Valeo, which allows for soft money. "This is a more direct form of softmoney, and soft money is legal, so the site is just as legal," he said.