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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 April, 2005, 08:08 GMT 09:08 UK
Votes for sale on eBay

POSTED: Wednesday 6 April, 1900BST

What's going on elsewhere on the web?

There's a certain weary inevitability about this, but one day into the campaign and already people are offering their votes for sale on eBay.

eBay screengrab
Screengrab of the votes for sale
For prices (at the time of writing) currently between £1.44 and £5, three sellers are offering their vote to the highest bidder. There seems to be a consistent motive behind the offers - protest. But one seller initially indicated the lure of some drinking money was the appeal. It was later amended to say that any proceeds would be donated to Unicef.

One of the sellers says: "Myself and my friend are selling our valuable votes for the 2005 General Election. We really don't give a monkeys who our votes go to and don't care who wins the election. So why not use the apathy of the despondent 'Generation X' to make a difference and swing the vote your way!"

Another says: "In this†election†no-one's going to do what I ask.††I'm going to have the same choice I always have.† A constituency in which the result is a forgone conclusion, and candidates doing nothing to distinguish themselves from the†550 other candidates of their party."

One even promises to photograph their completed ballot paper "for proof I voted for your choice".

But the bad news for these sellers is that offering votes for sale is an offence against the Representation of the People Act. A spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission said they had contacted eBay this afternoon asking them to remove the offending items.

In the past, she said, eBay had complied with their requests - which had meant that the sellers themselves had not been prosecuted. In any case, there is the difficulty of tracing people's real identities from the ones used online.

But in the week that the system of postal votes was branded by a judge as "hopelessly insecure" and "wide open to fraud", this may well cause the electoral authorities to keep a particularly close eye on what's going on online.

This is an entry from our campaign weblog

I do not understand how selling your vote should be an offence. As your vote does belong to anyone else you should be free to sell it if you choose. I also have sympathy for people who live in 'safe seats'. It must be very frustrating to live in a constituency where you know that your vote means nothing. The free market is the best form of democracy.
Jonathan Sinakgomo, wolverhampton UK

Any morons like this should be stripped of the right to vote. It's an insult to all those who fought for so long to get the right to vote. And I bet they are quick to moan & complain about things! If you don't vote, you have no right to complain about anything. It's just typical of the bloody minded apathy amongst people these days.
neil wilkes, London, England

What a fantastic idea! I'm strongly considering doing the same thing!
Jason Waldron, Manchester, England

It surely should be easy to trace people. If you register with eBay you give your name & address (if you don't give your address, you won't receive the things you might buy ....)
Claire Hodgson, West Rainton, Co Durham

The person who says "'s going to do what I ask" seems to sum up the apathy felt by a huge number of people in Britain today. Perhaps people should be forced to vote, balanced with an option for "none of the above" which, should it get the most votes, results in reform of the electoral system.
Mark, Lancashire

Brilliant! Selling one's vote on eBay is a real testament to the apathy felt by many who drag themselves to the polls for what they feel is a futile gesture. I'll have to remember this the next time I'm expected to go to the polls.
Jon Hook, Shawnee, KS, USA

Maybe certain MPs should accept money in return for not standing for re-election. I can think of a few I'd pay to stand down....
James Hardaker, Skegness, England

Like it or not, believe it or not, fraud will take place during this election, especially in postal voting and in highly contested marginal seats. Ebay can stop sales of votes, but who will stop the exchange of money in clubs and pubs?
Brian, UK

This is just a cheap way to make money, and it makes a mockery of both democracy and proper protesting. A lot has been sacrificed to make sure everyone gets a vote in this country and it is an insult to those that have fought for it that people will cheapen the vote this much.
Matt, Canterbury, UK

This is a fantastic way to point out how sick we are with feeling that we have no real choice. Perhaps if there was an option to go to the polling booth and to abstain (rather than spoil one's ballot paper), then we could honour those that have died for our freedoms while spelling out to politicians how pissed off we are.
Bilal, London

This reminds me of a Viz letter from years back "I'll vote for the first politician to give me 10 pounds."
Ex-pat, Brisbane, QLD

Is anyone else saddened by the frivolity of their actions?
Maria Waters, Teesside, UK

The current system doesn't allow you to "prove" even that the vote you took the photo of was the one that you cast. You can take a photo of one ballot, then go ask for another.
Matthew, London



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