Litigating the vote

Remember when Secretary of State Bill Jones made strong statements before November’s presidential election threatening criminal sanctions against anyone who sold or traded their vote online (“Sell Your Vote,” SN&R, Sept. 14, 2000, and “Too Late to Sell Out,” SN&R, Oct. 26, 2000)?

Since then, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California has been trying to prevent Jones from making good on that threat, arguing that online discussions about vote swapping is a free speech issue.

Representing several individuals including Alan Porter, owner of the Web site, ACLU-SC attorney Peter Eliasberg said “Votexchange2000 and other similar Web sites have a clear political message, and that qualifies them for the highest level of protection under the First Amendment.”

The ACLU was unsuccessful is its efforts to get a temporary restraining order against Jones back in November, and then struck out again last month in its attempt to get a permanent restraining order. Federal Judge Robert Kelleher ruled that it is up to state courts to interpret the elections code.

Eliasberg pledged to continue the fight in state court, vowing “the ACLU will not allow the Internet to become the First Amendment punching bag.”

Anticipating a positive outcome before the next presidential election, Porter has already registered the domain name “”