The BBC reports:

A number of voters in Argentina are seeking to auction off their votes on the internet ahead of the presidential election later this month. Opening prices for the votes range from 1 peso ($0.30) to 300 pesos ($95). Argentine electoral authorities say they can do little to stop the practice because it falls into a legal vacuum.

This set us to thinking, as our own poll slowly but surely devolves into the well-established routine of a glorified hip-pocket auction: why doesn’t Crikey ask voters in marginal seats to ”send us their votes”? We could list them on eBay … For sale, 20 votes in Eden-Monaro. Starting bid $5. End time: 38 days. Bid history: two bids. Brilliant! The voters could share the profits, or maybe send them to a charity, like the Pratt Foundation perhaps.

Then we read the electoral act:

COMMONWEALTH ELECTORAL ACT 1918 – SECT 326

Bribery
(1) A person shall not ask for, receive or obtain, or offer or agree to ask for, or receive or obtain, any property or benefit of any kind, whether for the same or any other person, on an understanding that:

(a) any vote of the first‑mentioned person…will, in any manner, be influenced or affected.

Penalty: $5,000 or imprisonment for 2 years, or both.

(2) A person shall not, with the intention of influencing or affecting:

(a) any vote of another person… give or confer, or promise or offer to give or confer, any property or benefit of any kind to that other person or to a third person.

Penalty: $5,000 or imprisonment for 2 years, or both.

(3) This section does not apply in relation to a declaration of public policy or a promise of public action.

Which was a bit of a downer, because we thought we were onto something. The same steadying thought of imminent imprisonment must have occurred to the major political players. How else could you explain paragraph (3)?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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