In the US, there are laws against vote buying (having people pay other people to vote for themselves or their favorite candidate). However, this law seems like it is unenforceable because of the sacrosanct nature of ballot secrecy. What I was thinking is that there was a computer program that uses Monero (or something like it) as a currency. The buyer would pay the other person a set amount to vote for Party A (the program does not allow the opposite, but it is open source so someone can reverse it). If the person receives the amount they were asking for, they would vote for the Party A candidate. But, if they don’t they sit out or vote for Party B to show that they didn’t get the money they asked for. If such a computer program existed, would using it against the law? Also, does the use of an anonymous currency make it more unenforceable because of the above reason and its anonymity?

Note: the people in this site would vote for Party A if the site did not exist.

1 Answer 1


The federal law, 18 USC 597, states that

Whoever makes or offers to make an expenditure to any person, either to vote or withhold his vote, or to vote for or against any candidate; and whoever solicits, accepts, or receives any such expenditure in consideration of his vote or the withholding of his vote shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if the violation was willful, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

It is not required that the prosecution prove that the recipient voted at all. You just have to make a payment or offer of payment, and you just have to agree to vote or not vote in exchange for that payment. These laws are entirely enforceable.

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    What if the person pays in the form of the answer to a relatively difficult computational puzzle that is NOT a bitcoin mining puzzle (or something like that)? Does “expenditure” only mean money or could it be a puzzle that is relatively difficult to solve such as the prime factorization of a 512 bit semiprime number with 256 bit factors? Doesn’t that fall under 1st Amendment protection? Jan 31, 2020 at 17:16
  • This is a separate question (what is an "expenditure"?), which you could ask.
    – user6726
    Jan 31, 2020 at 17:29
  • I already did.. Jan 31, 2020 at 17:38
  • @NumberFile First Amendment just protects the speech itself, not things surrounding the speech. Bribing someone with speech is still illegal. Oct 27, 2020 at 2:20
  • Seems to me that the clause "either to vote or withhold his vote" answers the question. How do you interpret that language?
    – user6726
    Nov 5, 2020 at 17:34

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