A vote for sale

Voting is one of our freedoms that shouldn’t be auctioned off.

Much has been written about the case of Max Sanders , the 19-year-old University student who attempted to sell his vote on eBay. Hennepin County charged Sanders with a felony, citing a dusty, century-old law that Minnesota used to slap on prohibition-era violators.

Indeed, the incident was a grim flashback to darker times for our democracy, when political machines wielded veritable influence over their desperate constituents. But with two thirds of eligible voters going to the polls for the crucial 2004 presidential election, it begs the question: how much is your vote worth?

This could be where we urge you to nod in solemn recognition to the 4,000-plus troops who perished in Iraq, that you revisit that history lesson about the battle of Lexington and Concord, and finally, with patriotic conceit, that you march to the proper polling station and exercise your freedom to choose from a list who you want to lead the most powerful nation in the world this November.

But that argument would fall blunted on the stranglehold of political apathy. Accordingly, Max Sanders’ case makes one wonder whether someone can be taught that a vote represents more than a trite gesture of patriotism. But beyond that argument lies the bleak reality that sometimes a vote might just feel like a symbolic outlet of political preference that snatches a relatively diminutive amount of time – perhaps too much time. What does it matter if you don’t cast your vote Nov. 7? In a sea of millions of voters and amid stockpiles of money from lobbyists and special interests, probably not much.

Still, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t vote if you want a hand in shaping this country’s destiny. The freedom to vote isn’t so much the modus operandi of democracy as is the freedom to express one’s will within an oftentimes maddeningly unrepresentative political process. Voting is just one of the freedoms we enjoy that shouldn’t be up for sale.