by WorldTribune Staff, December 2, 2020
It is a violation of federal election law to offer people anything of value in exchange for their vote. Violation is punishable by up to two years in prison and as much as $10,000 in fines.
That not only means cash for votes is illegal, but so are raffles, gift cards, free food, free T-shirts, and so on in exchange for votes.
Reports from The Federalist and The Epoch Times have documented illegal schemes in several states in which items of value were given for proof of voting.
“Native American voter advocacy groups in Nevada handed out gift cards, electronics, clothing, and other items to voters in tribal areas, in many cases documenting the exchange of ballots for ‘prizes’ on their own Facebook pages, sometimes even while wearing official Joe Biden campaign gear,” John Daniel Davidson reported for The Federalist last month.
The Nevada Native Vote Project’s Facebook page contained “post after post of voters receiving something of value in exchange for proof they cast a vote or handed over an absentee ballot. In one post, two men display $25 Visa gift cards they received after dropping off absentee ballots, presumably to someone who works for the Nevada Native Vote Project,” Davidson noted.
The posts have since been deleted but not before they were archived. The removal may have had something to do with the U.S. criminal code, two distinct sections of which impose fines and prison sentences for “whoever makes or offers to make an expenditure to any person, either to vote or withhold his vote.”
“Offering gift cards for ballots wasn’t the only way the Nevada Native Vote Project enticed people to vote,” Ivan Pentchchoukov wrote for The Epoch Times on Dec. 1. In a video posted to Facebook, Bethany Sam, the public relations officer for the Reno–Sparks Indian Colony, urged people to come out and vote by offering “some extra swag that we can give out.”
“We have twenty-five $25 gift cards to raffle off so that’s a lot of money in cash here,” Sam says in the video, adding that voters need only send a photo of themselves at the polling place to enter. “We have also four $100 gift cards to give away, so again you want to make sure to get out here and vote. And then, we have four $250 gift cards to raffle. And our grand prize is going to be a $500 Visa gift card to the person or native voters who came out early this week for early voting.”
Another scrubbed video shows Sam promoting a swag giveaway in front of a Biden-Harris campaign bus sometime before the end of Nevada’s early voting period on Oct. 30.
“If you can, get down here and get yourself some swag, see the Biden-Harris campaign bus and then you can go in person or drop your ballot off at our Reno polling location here,” Sam said. “We have a lot of our community members here waiting to get their swag,” she added, speaking through a Biden-Harris mask. “Get down here and get your swag and vote.”
Voters were offered a chance to win cash and expensive prizes on or before Election Day in places other than Nevada. The Epoch Times has reviewed photos and videos that document the same scheme in eight other states, including Arizona, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
“Vote buying is a federal crime. Whether FBI agents and the DOJ Election Crimes office is willing to involve itself is a separate matter altogether,” Logan Churchwell, communications director with the Public Interest Legal Foundation, told The Epoch Times.
Other instances of vote buying reported by The Epoch Times included:
• In Nevada’s Walker River community, the raffle prizes included an HP laptop and a Bose speaker, as seen in a Facebook post by Elveda Martinez. Martinez promoted a number of money-for-votes and expensive item raffles. A photo she posted on Election Day shows a voter holding an unopened Apple iPad. “Thanks for voting. If we all vote, we can make a difference and be heard. Here’s some of our tribal voters with their incentives, thanks to NCAI,” Martinez wrote.
• A group in Wisconsin called Menikanaehkem promoted a Smart TV raffle for voters who sent in a photo of their “I Voted” sticker or their voting number.
• The Forest County Potawatomi Community, also in Wisconsin, promoted a $50 gas card raffle that people could enter by sending in a photo of their “I Voted” sticker.
• The Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in Michigan offered $20 gas cards to anyone who sent pictures of themselves voting.
• Corazon Arizona promoted a cash raffle for people who sent in a picture of themselves with their ballot. “People! This is all you have to do to enter the raffle! Post a ballot selfie … to win money! Don’t forget to use your voice and vote before November 3, 7pm!” Stephanie Salgado wrote on Facebook, instructing her audience to tag Corazon Arizona.
The Federalist’s Davidson noted: “There are about 60,000 eligible Native American voters in Nevada who make up about 3 percent of the state’s total voting population. That’s almost twice the margin of Biden’s lead over President Trump in Nevada. So the Native American vote really does matter, it could even be decisive. It therefore matters how many Native American votes were influenced by an illegal cash-for-votes scheme.”
Davidson added: “All of this coordinated illegal activity, clearly designed to churn out votes for Biden and Democrats in tribal areas all across the country, is completely out in the open. You don’t need special access or some secret source to find out about it. You just have be curious, look around, and report it. Unfortunately, mainstream media outlets are not curious and refuse to report on any of this stuff.”