A controversial website, which has been slammed by US courts for illegally selling presidential votes, said today it plans to set up shop in the European Union.
Vote-auction.com, which was closed down temporarily by a Cook County judge, offers to buy up votes from disillusioned US presidential voters - and then sell them on wholesale to the highest bidder.
James Scanlon, general counsel for the Chicago Board of Elections, said any US citizen who participated in selling his or her vote or buying a vote could be convicted of felony voter fraud, which carries a sentence of one to three years in prison.
However, despite this warning the site dodged the Cook County ruling and reopened on Saturday. Although it has removed all previous references about selling votes, it has replaced them with offers of securing "donations".
The site currently displays the following message: "Vote-auction.com has created a new paradigm in the election industry. Now the voters can take control of their voting capital and campaign investors will see a greater return on their investment."
The website organisers say they have plans to set up a similar scheme for EU voters who it will be "our next market of service".
The operator of the site, Hans Bernhard of Vienna, Austria, declined to comment.
Vote-auction.com, created by a graduate student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York and later sold to Bernhard, said it would collect absentee ballots from voters, verify them, and then sell them to the highest bidder who could "choose who the group will vote for en masse". Sellers then would receive money depending on how much was bid.