Norwalk man tries to sell his presidential vote on eBay

NORWALK Before pulling any publicity stunt, it is always good to do a little research.
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010



Before pulling any publicity stunt, it is always good to do a little research.

Take, for example, the Norwalk man who tried to sell his vote on eBay.

After posting his ad online,he received notice from theonline auction company that selling a person's vote for the upcoming presidential electionis not only an invalid category --it's a crime.

The ad was promptly pulled off the Web site.

"I found out it's not proper to do that, so it's off eBay," the man said.

The Norwalk resident said he never intended to trade his vote for cash.

The idea was to draw attention to the media circus surrounding this election and how the race for the White House is little more than a popularity contest.

Race and gender are all that are being discussed, he said,adding issues of real importance -- such as the economy -- are glossed over.

The short-lived auctiondescription asked potential buyers how much a vote is worth in the crucial swing state of Ohio.

"It just said, 'How much is my vote worth to you?' And I was curious to see what a vote is worth.

"I did some research and a lot of these candidates spend about $5.24 on advertising for each vote" they receive, the seller said.

The New York Times reported in November 2007 that George W. Bush spent $345 million to winre-election in 2004 -- averaging out to about $5.56 for each vote.

John Kerry, by comparison, spent about $5.24 for each vote.

The eBay ad was removed before any bids were made.

The seller had no guess how much his vote would fetch.

Not by a long shot is this the first time anyone has tried to hawk their vote online: James Pengov, 36, of Elyria, landed in hot water in 2004 when he tried to do the exact same thing.

Only 12 hours after he posted his ad, it came down. Election authorities got wind of Pengov's plans and let him know that he was in a world of legal pain if he pursued it.

Ohio Revised Code states that it is illegal to pay or receive money or any other type of compensation for either casting a vote or refraining to do so.

"Conviction on that is bribery, a felony (of the fourth-degree), that results in disenfranchisement and you can't hold public office for five years," said Jeff Ortega, spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State.

According to eBay, there are as many as five million new items posted for sale on the Web site auction each day. That means eBay's monitoring team is unable to catch all of the illegal postings.

Sellers have been caught dealing drugs, selling stolen property and auctioning their internal organs on the site.

But even some legal postings have stirred up controversy.

Parents have sold the rights to name their children online. Others have sold advertising space on their bodies.

Used tissues and discarded chewing gum once belonging to celebrities occasionally crop up.

A Sacramento State college student recently tried selling her virginity online, but eBay didn't want any part of it.

She did, however, find a legal brothel in Nevada to help bring her plans to fruition.