Cards Against Humanity Bribes Fans to Elect Democrats

The creators of the popular card game Cards Against Humanity have launched a targeted campaign to elect Democrats in six swing districts. An election lawyer suggested they might want to lawyer up, because it's illegal under federal law to bribe someone to vote a certain way.

"Get your hands out of your pants and listen carefully: we’re hacking the midterm elections, and you can help," Cards Against Humanity tweeted on Wednesday. No, the owners of the card game weren't announcing a cyber attack on the U.S. electoral system — but they were announcing a targeted effort to turn the House of Representatives blue.

"We picked six districts that we can flip from red to blue," Cards Against Humanity added in a follow-up tweet. "If you know someone who lives in one of these districts, we'll send both of you a new pack of cards. We’ll also throw in a pamphlet that uses logic and facts to manipulate your friend into voting for the Democrat."

Cards Against Humanity is a party game involving matching black cards (adjectives or sentences with blanks for words to be filled in) and white cards (names, places, or other nouns). The game has released special themed packs to make the game more fun.

On the campaign website, Cards Against Humanity explained what it means by "hacking the election." The owners adopted the phrase because "it's catchier than 'Cards Against Humanity runs a targeted get-out-the-vote campaign to reach young liberal fans in swing states."

The site presents six Democrats as qualified, well-meaning candidates and six Republicans as evil bastards. The campaign targeted races in California, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, and Texas.

If a Cards Against Humanity fan does not live in a swing district, he or she can still get a pack of cards — by paying $5.

This suggests that Cards Against Humanity is sending gifts worth $5 each to potential voters, with the express purpose of swaying their votes in November.

Bribery is illegal under federal law. Jason Torchinsky, partner at Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky PLLC specializing in campaign finance, election law, lobbying disclosure, and issue advocacy groups, pointed PJ Media in the direction of U.S. Code Title 18, Part I, Chapter 29, Section 597. That law forbids "expenditures to influence voting."

Whoever makes or offers to make an expenditure to any person, either to vote or withhold his vote, or to vote for or against any candidate; and

Whoever solicits, accepts, or receives any such expenditure in consideration of his vote or the withholding of his vote —

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if the violation was willful, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

Torchinsky put this in context. "Anyone offering anything of value to voters to induce a vote had best consult counsel — federal voting laws are not to be trifled with," he told PJ Media.

While Cards Against Humanity may be violating federal law, companies often offer incentives to encourage people to vote. When someone points out that these effective bribes likely violate federal law, the companies change their tunes.

All the same, it seems particularly brazen for Cards Against Humanity to not just offer goods for a vote, but to target six districts, smear Republicans, and offer campaign literature to "manipulate your friend into voting for the Democrat."

Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.