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Apparently vote trading is illegal in California when done by elected officials:

Recent amendments to the Penal Code extended the prohibition to local officials:

Any member of the legislative body of a city, county, city and county, school district, or other special district, who … gives, or offers or promises to give, any official vote in consideration that … another member of the legislative body … shall give this vote either upon the same or another question, is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years and … by a restitution fine of not less than $2,000 or not more than $10,000.

To underscore the seriousness of the offense, vote-trading (like other forms of bribery and crimes against the legislative power) also subjects an official to forfeiture of office and forever being disqualified from holding office.

Which other US states have a similar prohibition on vote trading?


California penal code §86 in more detail:

Every Member of either house of the Legislature, or any member of the legislative body of a city, county, city and county, school district, or other special district, who asks, receives, or agrees to receive, any bribe, upon any understanding that his or her official vote, opinion, judgment, or action shall be influenced thereby, or shall give, in any particular manner, or upon any particular side of any question or matter upon which he or she may be required to act in his or her official capacity, or gives, or offers or promises to give, any official vote in consideration that another Member of the Legislature, or another member of the legislative body of a city, county, city and county, school district, or other special district shall give this vote either upon the same or another question, is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years and, in cases in which no bribe has been actually received, by a restitution fine of not less than four thousand dollars ($4,000) or not more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) or, in cases in which a bribe was actually received, by a restitution fine of at least the actual amount of the bribe received or four thousand dollars ($4,000), whichever is greater, or any larger amount of not more than double the amount of any bribe received or twenty thousand dollars ($20,000), whichever is greater.

In imposing a fine under this section, the court shall consider the defendant’s ability to pay the fine.

(Amended by Stats. 2014, Ch. 881, Sec. 2. (AB 1666) Effective January 1, 2015.)

  • @divibisan: yes, isn't that clear from the question? (Note that CA construes "legislators" pretty widely for the purpose of their prohibition, down to school boards it seems.) – Fizz Oct 23 '19 at 14:53
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    I added that to the title. I wasn’t sure if the mention of elected officials in CA was just an example of a law against vote trading, or if it put a constraint on the question – divibisan Oct 23 '19 at 14:55
  • @divibisan: CA also tried to ban some some vote pairing sites, but that didn't go so well. – Fizz Oct 23 '19 at 14:57
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    @Fizz fair enough, I'll retract the misinformation claim, but the article does site section 88 for their quote. – Reinstate Monica Oct 28 '19 at 15:28
  • @ReinstateMonica: they also cite 86 in their next footnote. – Fizz Oct 28 '19 at 15:52
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+50

North Dakota does not, and uses federal case law reasoning as a basis, which may form a national consensus of some sort, with California perhaps being an outlier (emphasis mine):

On Monday, A.G. Jackley announced that he had issued the requested opinion, explaining that, as I suspected, “vote-trading” is not just perfectly legal but standard operating procedure in government:

“Vote trading,” also known as “horse trading” or “logrolling,” is not prohibited by existing law. It is defined as “[t]he trading of influence or votes among legislators to achieve passage of projects of interest to one another.” American Heritage Dictionary Second College Edition 403 (1983). Those acts are “the swap of one official act for another.” United States v. Blagojevich, 794 F.3d 729, 735 (7th Cir. 2015). For example, “Representative A agrees with Representative B to vote for milk price supports, if B agrees to vote for tighter controls on air pollution.” Id. The Blagojevich court explained, “Governance would hardly be possible without these accommodations, which allow each public official to achieve more of his principal objective while surrendering something about which he cares less, but the other politician cares more strongly.” Id. Our Legislature implicitly recognizes the propriety of “vote trading” as its Joint Rules do not prohibit such conduct [Attorney General Marty Jackley, Official Opinion 17-02: “Whether ‘Vote-Trading’ and ‘Vehicle Bills’ Are Prohibited,” 2017.02.23].

This is an implicit recognition, not an explicit, positive affirmation.

Note this is vote swapping in the Legislature, not in elections between citizen voters.

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