how much for your vote

Cost of Your Vote

Last Updated on July 28, 2021 | Written by CPA Alec Pow
First Published on November 1, 2018 | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popivker

The first thing we need to make crystal clear is that paying, requesting, or receiving money or any other goods or advantages to cast a vote for one of the candidates is against the law.

That being said, if you’re a registered American voter and want to get something out of your vote, you need to know that fraudulent candidates won’t pay too much, usually no more than a tank of gas.

Most states have already made big efforts to discourage people from casting illegal votes or try to fraudulently influence the election results. Surprisingly, this hasn’t raised the price per vote and people tend to sell their votes pretty cheaply. As an example, one vote could cost as low as $10 in West Virginia. If you think that’s a low number, then you should know that in the past, a candidate for statehouse from West Memphis, Ark. has bought votes with just half-pints of vodka, worth $2.

At the other end, some prosecuted cases show votes being sold for as much as $100, but that was for really close elections and really close to the end of the election.

Could fraudulent votes steal an American election? Turns out that if the results are close enough, they can. As seen during older court cases from all around the country, corrupt people can use a bunch of tricks to change the outcome during an election. Some conspirators allegedly bribed people that were just heading to the polls to vote with their candidate, others faked absentee ballots, or even bought off absentee voters.

Even if voter-ID laws target people that pretend to be someone else when they vote, this fraudulent tactic isn’t used all that often.

Here’s Another Interesting Read: How Much Does Your Personal Data Cost

Although in theory people posing as someone else while voting could be an issue, in reality, corrupt campaigners tend to use real voters to get precious votes and not bother with finding people to impersonate others.

During the 2010 local primary election in Jackson, Ky., some people were promised $45 for each vote and many of them agreed with that sum.

Voter fraud, using any method, is still quite rare and doesn’t usually influence the end result of an election. A study published by News21 has shown that since the year 2000, only about 867 cases involved someone being convicted of a voter fraud offense.  Out of around 146 million registered voters, the number seems insignificant.

Out of all the cases of election fraud, only 7 involved voter impersonation at the polls, making this one of the rarest ways to fraud an election.

These numbers seem to have no effect on state legislators that continue to pass strict laws that require a photo ID to be able to vote. Some supporters argue that these laws could prevent fraud in the future, which is always a good thing.

Some organizations argue that voter impersonation fraud isn’t a big problem because the current system designed to protect the outcome of the election isn’t designed to detect these tricks. That’s why, this additional layer of security could only be beneficial, according to them.

Legal cases have shown that people tend to go on the corrupt path during smaller elections, usually local races for positions as mayor, county clerk or even magistrate.

vote fraud costAs past elections have shown us, you shouldn’t necessarily expect someone to stand near the voting area and beg you to take their money for your vote. Most frauds occur away from the prying eyes of officials, using absentee ballots. That’s another reason why your vote counts; by voting, you’re not only picking the candidate that you want, but you make sure that your vote isn’t used for the opponent’s team. The same study by News21 found 250 cases of absentee ballots used to fraud the election.

An older case, from West Memphis, involved Hudson Hallum, a candidate for the Democrats, running for the state legislature, that paid absentees with vodka, whiskey, cash, and even chicken dinners. He won the election with only 85 votes ahead but later resigned his seat while being prosecuted.

Some fraud cases didn’t even involve a payment. For example, during the 2010 elections in Lincoln County, the sheriff simply showed up at people’s homes and told them how to cast their votes and even filled out the ballot for them. Having a police representative in their homes was apparently a big enough reason for them to vote as told.

This voter fraud instance would have gone unnoticed if officials hadn’t seen over 100 absentee voter ballots with the same handwriting.

As some of you might already know, you can enlist yourself as an absentee voting in any state and 27 of them don’t even require a reason like you being away or illness.

If at this point you’re still looking to make a buck out of your vote, then you should know that there still are a lot of fraudsters that bribe voters up front, on their way to the polls.

These tactics, if not discovered on spot, are usually very hard to prove, as the people that get bribed still go in the booth and vote, meaning that they are real voters that follow all of the other voting rules.

Bottom line? You could find someone to buy your vote if cash is what you’re looking for. You can even get a free dinner or booze for that same vote. Remember, though, that this is an illegal process that can get both you and the person that paid you in big trouble. Not planning to vote? Not voting could be the same thing as voting for the candidate you dislike, as their campaign team could use your vote in their favor, either by finding someone to impersonate you at the booth, or, more likely, using your identity on an absentee ballot.

Alec Pow
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