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Copyright (c) 2000 California Law Review
California Law Review


Copyright 2000 California Law Review, Inc. California Law Review, Incorporated (CLR) is a California nonprofit corporation. CLR and the authors are solely responsible for the content of their publications.

October, 2000

88 Calif. L. Rev. 1323


Richard L. Hasen+


The buying of votes in political elections, or "core vote buying," is illegal in every state and in federal elections. Although vote buying bans are ubiquitous and uncontroversial, rationales offered for such bans are more contestable than may first appear. In Part I of this article, Professor Hasen explores equality, efficiency, and inalienability arguments supporting a ban on core vote buying. Each rationale depends upon debatable normative and positive assumptions about the nature of voting and the political system.

Determining which rationale or rationales support the ban on core vote buying is more than an academic exercise. As Part II explains, a host of other political practices have a superficial resemblance to core vote buying. But one cannot make a normative judgment on whether these "non-core" vote buying practices should be illegal, legally tolerated, or encouraged by simply questioning whether the practices "look enough like vote buying" and therefore should be illegal. Instead, one must ask whether the rationales developed in Part I - equality, efficiency, and inalienability - support or oppose a ban on the non-core vote-buying practice. Part II uses the rationales to examine five non-core vote-buying practices: legislative logrolling, vote buying in corporate elections, payments for turnout, campaign promises and contributions, and voting in special district elections. It concludes that the three rationales developed in the Article offer a good first cut at deciding whether these practices should be illegal, legally tolerated, or encouraged.

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