I am reading an essay by Alfred F. Young right now in which the author mentions that Gouverneur Morris said of enfranchising those without property:

Give the vote to people who have no property and they will sell them to the rich who will be able to buy them.

I find the concept of selling votes to be interesting, and I imagine that different elections would have different prices for which votes would sell. I have not been able to find any information on what the range of prices for votes would be, and it seems like a very difficult thing to put a price on. Is there any literature available on the prices which would have been payed for votes in various elections in the period?

  • 3
    I don't know about that era exactly, but corruption in Tammany Hall is fairly well documented, as it was under Huey Long (both in the early 20th Century). I vaguely remember reading a work of fiction for school (Upton Sinclair's The Jungle perhaps?) that recorded a character's stint buying votes. There are probably lots of other sources I'm not thinking of.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 23:05
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    Prevention of buying votes with drinks was one of the reasons that establishments that sell alcohol were prohibited from opening on election day in most jurisdictions, until recently.
    – bgwiehle
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 0:34

1 Answer 1


In the 1980's, in Duval County, Texas, a 50 dollar food stamp voucher was the bounty if you voted "correctly" in a local election.

I only know this because a co-worker's aunt was busted, along with two associates, for this. She had better lawyers and got the venue changed. Two years probation. Her two 'associates' did time in jail.

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