One of the understated joys of sifting through state statutes is finding little, arcane laws that are on the books for some reason, but are never enforced. In a lot of cases, you wonder how they got there in the first place – there must have been a great back story.
In any event, head on over to Chapter 6 of the Wisconsin Statutes, which governs which citizens are eligible to vote. Behold Wis. Stat. 6.03(2):
(2) No person shall be allowed to vote in any election in which the person has made or become interested, directly or indirectly, in any bet or wager depending upon the result of the election.
As it turns out, I myself am involved in a friendly wager based on the outcome of the election. I guess that means I can’t vote. And anyone that takes part in any kind of “guess the percantage pool?” You’re out, too. Apparently, if you have a financial stake in the outcome of an election, you’re allowed to moderate a presidential debate, but not vote.
For me, this actually turns out to be good news: as of right now, my bet ain’t lookin’ so hot. So I can just pull out of it for fear the cops are going to haul me out of the voting booth and billy club me for trying to win my bet.
As a friend of mine noted, I should probably fear Wis. Stat 6.03(3) even more: Being declared mentally incompetent.
In all seriousness, this statute seems a little naive. Virtually everyone involved in a campaign is essentially placing a bet on the outcome of the election. One of the primary reasons candidates are able to draw people out to volunteer is the promise of a job or some other perk if they win. If a campaign contribution isn’t essentially placing a bet on the outcome of the election, what is?
And for those actually interested in betting on the election, here are the Vegas lines as of this morning:
John McCain 3-1
Barack Obama 1-5
In layman’s terms, Obama is an enormous favorite. If you bet $100 on McCain, you stand to make $300 if he wins. But if you want to make money betting on Obama, you have to lay $500 just to win $100. Just make sure you don’t vote, as it would be illegal.
UPDATE: As I clicked “publish” on this post, I immediately went to Wispolitics’ website, which is advertising a free subscription if you win their “election picking” contest. Hope that prize also comes with bail money.