Category Archives: vote buying

Talk About Incentives for Voting: Major Porn Site Issues Release Saying It Will Be Available on Election Day Only to Those Who Voted

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 Pornhub, the premier online destination for adult entertainment, today announced “Give A F**k, Get A F**k,” a campaign to encourage American users to vote. On Election Day, Pornhub will be reserved only for those who have voted in the United States.

“Roughly 43 percent of eligible voters – equal to 100 million people – didn’t vote in the 2016 U.S Presidential Election, according to turnout estimates from the U.S. Elections Project. We want to encourage people to do their civic duty this year by casting their ballot and having their voice heard,” said Corey Price, Vice President, Pornhub.

Leading up to the campaign officially launching on Nov. 3, Pornhub will be running a social campaign with an assortment of high-profile models – including Pornhub Brand Ambassador Asa Akira, Domino Presley, Natassia Dreams, Janice Griffith, Lance Hart, Soverign Syre and Lotus Laine – posting videos encouraging people to get out and vote and also teasing them that “if they don’t give a f***, they don’t get a f**k.” When the campaign officially kicks off on Nov. 3, Pornhub users in the United States will be greeted by an overlay page which will appear over the Pornhub website from 10 a.m. EST to 9 p.m. EST reminding them to vote before entering the site that day.  

It is not clear if proof of voting would be required to enter the site, which would be illegal.

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“Election Day Giveaways Steer Toward the Right Side of the Law”

Bryon Tau for the WSJ:

Some of America’s largest corporations have finally gotten the memo that election-season giveaways requiring proof of voting are actually illegal under federal law.

It’s an issue that recurs with every election: Companies ranging from national brands to small businesses see an opportunity to both promote themselves and a civic cause by offering discounts or freebies to people with an “I Voted” sticker.

But such giveaways run afoul of federal prohibitions on providing incentives or inducements to vote—a longstanding anticorruption measure designed to facilitate clean elections. Such prohibitions are rarely if ever enforced against corporations offering discounts or freebies to voters doing their civic duty, but they remain on the books.

This year many national chains are keeping their giveaways on the right side of the law by making them available to voters and non-voters alike….

Rick Hasen, a law professor at University of California, Irvine, and perhaps the foremost chronicler of such lawbreaking in recent election cycles, appeared surprised at how many national chains have gotten the message.

“I feel like now I can retire. Looks like all of these Election Day giveaways do *not* require proof of voting (such proof runs into the federal law against inducements to vote, but have been common in earlier elections),” he wrote on Twitter this week.

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“Ex-congressman from Abscam scandal faces new vote-buying charges”


An ex-congressman once convicted as part of the infamous Abscam investigation in the 1980s is facing new corruption charges for allegedly bribing a Philadelphia elections official to stuff ballot boxes.

Michael “Ozzie” Myers, who was famously caught on a hidden FBI microphone years ago declaring “money talks in this business and bulls— walks,” was charged with conspiring to violate voting rights, bribery of an election official, falsification of records, voting more than once in the same election and obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors say Myers, 77, conspired to bribe a former election division judge, who has already pleaded guilty in the case….

Myers allegedly bribed the local elections judge to illegally add votes for Democratic candidates in primary elections. Myers has worked for years as a political consultant to judicial candidates, and the indictment alleges that he paid bribes to deliver more votes for his clients, as well as other candidates he favored.

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“Free gas drawing only for those who pledge support for Prop. 6? Backers now say no, anyone can enter.”

SD Union Tribune:

The campaign supporting Proposition 6, the November ballot measure to repeal a California gas-tax increase, on Sunday promoted a statewide event sure to be popular — a drawing for a free tank of gas for those who promise to support the measure.

But such giveaways are generally not allowed under state and federal law, and the news release was re-sent without the explicit requirement for people to support the measure to enter the drawing.

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Ostensibly To Avoid Laws Against Vote Buying, Lyft and Uber Offer Only One-Way Free Transportation to the Polls

Much has been made recently about the good deed being offered by two of America’s most popular ridesharing services. Uber and Lyft have both announced that they are going to give voters in the midterm elections rides to the polls on Tuesday, November 6.

But what Uber and Lyft aren’t saying, at least not as loud, is that those free rides to the polling stations are one way. In other words, once you take one of these companies up on their offer, they won’t take you back home — for free, at least….

Team Clark reached out to Lyft, as well, about the free rides. A Lyft spokeswoman replied via email that free or discounted transportation back from the polls could be construed as a gift for voting.

“The ride only covers the way there. Voting is every citizen’s right, which means there are a number of regulations in place to protect against voter fraud or buying someone’s vote. There are strict rules against gifts or incentives, and providing free or discounted transportation back from the polls falls into that category,” she wrote.

The question of whether return trips are illegal is one I have not seen before. The federal prohibition on vote buying. The relevant statute, among other things, makes it a crime for one who willfully “pays or offers to pay or accepts payment either for registration to vote or for voting.” The statute has long been interpreted to allow payments for transportation to the polls. As one court explained:

In United States v. Lewin, 467 F.2d 1132, 1136 (7th Cir.1972), the court classified providing transportation to the polls as “assistance rendered by civic groups to prospective voters,” rather than payment, and held that § 1973i(c) does not proscribe “efforts by civic groups or employers to encourage people to register.” The United States Department of Justice appears to agree with this analysis.

[T]he concept of “payment” does not reach things such as rides to the polls or time off from work which are given to make it easier for those who have decided to vote to cast their ballots. Such “facilitation payments” are to be distinguished from gifts made personally to prospective voters for the specific purpose of stimulating or influencing the more fundamental decision to participate in an election.Craig C. Donsanto, Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses 18 (5th ed. 1988).

The distinction between “facilitative” programs and “gift” programs seems based in part on historical factors which preceded the passage of most voting rights legislation. See Day-Brite Lighting v. State of Missouri, 342 U.S. 421, 424-25, 72 S. Ct. 405, 407-08, 96 L. Ed. 469 (1952) (upholding state law requiring employer to allow employees four hours of paid leave on election day in order to vote); 111 Cong.Rec.S. 8986 (daily ed. April 29, 1965) (Section 1973i(c) does not prohibit the “practice that has been recognized and has been accepted by both political parties and all organizations with respect to helping to transport people who do not have means of transportation to the polls in order to cast their ballots”). See also Parsley v. Cassady, 300 Ky. 603189 S.W.2d 947, 948 (1945) (upholding candidates’ contribution of cars and trucks to assist in voter transportation as reasonable due to bad roads and wartime exigencies); Watkins v. Holbrook, 311 Ky. 236223 S.W.2d 903, 903-04 (1949) (upholding disbursement of money to provide for transport to polls to “get out the vote”).

Perhaps more importantly, this distinction reflects the difficulty in balancing the need to minimize undue pecuniary influence in elections with the desire to encourage and facilitate maximum political participation…..

I think a good faith argument could be made that the exemption for transportation to the polls includes a return trip. Indeed, most groups that offer rides to the polls (on buses or otherwise) offer a round trip. I wonder whether this is just a way for Lyft and Uber to save some money. Hard for me to believe they’d be in legal jeopardy for offering round trip transportation. Would be great to find a way to test this.

(Thanks to Matt Weil for asking the question.)


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“Saxbys plans to give away free lattes for voting. That’s a nice idea — but also illegal.”

Billy Penn:

While the locally owned coffee chain’s altruism is admirable, it’s also illegal under federal law.

“In elections in which federal candidates are on the ballot, no one can offer any kind of benefit or reward for voting,” UC Irvine law and political science professor Rick Hasen told Politico in 2010. “The simple way to deal with this is to open up the event to all comers — voters and nonvoters alike.”

Hasen confirmed to Billy Penn by email that Saxbys offer does run afoul of federal law: “Tell them free lattes for all!”

A spokesperson for Saxbys said they were looking into our question.

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“Campaign informant: I was paid $30 to hand messenger ballot to Atlantic City Democratic operative”

Philadelphia Inquirer  on some absentee ballot vote buying allegations:

Voice recorder in his pocket, Rodney Cotton, 51, got out of the private detectives’ car and headed for the Gilliam for Mayor headquarters on Atlantic Avenue.

As the two retired state troopers watched from a distance Saturday, Cotton went inside, then emerged and got into a white van driven by Craig Callaway, a city Democratic Party activist known for quarterbacking exhaustive vote-by-mail operations. The van left for Mays Landing, where the old Atlantic County courthouse was open for special Saturday hours to process ballots for Tuesday’s election.

Cotton would later report to the detectives that Callaway paid him $30 to obtain and sign for a messenger ballot for an Atlantic City man whom he said he did not know, and that rather than delivering that ballot to the man — as required by law — he handed it directly to Callaway, who put it in his pocket.

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$100 (Legal) Vote Buying in Tribal Election

Buffalo News:

Sometimes, an election vote that is supposed to be secret really isn’t secret at all.

That is what happened last Tuesday, when members of Seneca Nation elected every candidate sponsored by the Seneca Party, according to critics of the election.

Seneca Party candidates won all 30 contested offices, including president, treasurer and all the members of the Tribal Council. Not one candidate who opposed the Seneca Party came away with a victory.

Critics of the election, especially the two unsuccessful candidates for president – J. Conrad “J.C.” Seneca and Sally Snow – said there are two reasons for the Seneca Party’s sweep.

During the voting, poll watchers for the Seneca Party could determine whether voters were casting a straight ballot for the Seneca Party candidates, or taking time to vote for other candidates, they say. And Seneca and casino jobs for the voters and their families are dependent on the straight ballot, the critics said.

The second reason why the Seneca Party swept the election, the critics said, is vote buying, which is legal in the Seneca Nation.

“As long as you have a party that is going to pay people $100 for a vote, they are going to keep winning,” said Sally Snow, one of the two unsuccessful presidential candidates. “I refused to pay for votes. I do not want to become the first woman president in the history of the Seneca Nation by paying people for their votes.”

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“The Counter” Burger Restaurant Could Get in Legal Trouble for Offering Free Fries with “I Voted” Sticker

From my NYT Room for Debate today:


Back in 2008, I noted that Ben and Jerry’s, in an act of civic virtue, promised free ice cream on Election Day to everyone who showed an “I Voted” sticker. But this ran afoul of a long-running federal prohibition on vote buying. I was called a “crotchety spoilsport” for raising this argument, as Elie seems to treat me now, but my fear was that payment for turnout — especially directed to certain areas only — could be the basis for more worrisome vote buying. The Ben and Jerry’s story ended happily, with the ice cream company responding by giving free ice cream to voters and nonvoters alike, including kids.


And yet,,,,,


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And this has been fixed:


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