Votes-for-sale Web site a hoax

The Associated Press
Wednesday November 08, 2000

NEW YORK — A Web site that purported to buy and sell votes in the presidential election came clean Tuesday and said it was all a piece of political satire. 

The admission came after an Illinois judge ordered the site to shut down. A Massachusetts judge also had ordered that it stop offering votes in that state for sale. In addition, the site- voteauction.de, prompted investigations by California and Nebraska officials. 

State and federal laws prohibit buying and selling votes. 

The site’s owner, Hans Bernhard of Vienna, Austria, and fellow operators issued a statement on Election Day: “It will be obvious, even to the legal folk, that there are people out there buying and selling votes, but that it is not us. We just gave you the showcase. The real dealers do their businesses quite openly in Washington. Vive la difference ” 

The site has complained of special interest groups that donate money to candidates who then spend it on advertising to win votes. The site claimed to be cutting out the middleman and getting money directly to voters. It said that votes were selling for as much as $157 each. 

Deborah Phillips, chairwoman of the nonprofit Voting Integrity Project, which monitors election fraud, urged authorities to continue investigating. 

“I get a sense they are all backpedaling quickly,” she said. “I am leery about people dismissing it as a political statement or a joke if that is what they have to do to escape prosecution.” 

On the Net: 

Voting Integrity Project: http://votingintegrity.org 

Vote Auction site: http://voteauction.de