After the Citizen’s United decision I turned to my wife and said we might as well give corporations the right to vote at this point. They have already have most rights and we may as well finish the job and make corporations citizens. Of course I was be facetious since I think Citizen’s United was probably the single worst SCOTUS decision in my life time.
But now it looks like MT wants to finish the job. As pointed out by Secular Jurist a proposed bill would grant corporations, companies, partnerships and firms the right to vote. If this bill were to pass then corporations would no longer have to funnel their money through Super PACs for everything, they could vote themselves also. That means businesses could set up fronts to get more votes. They could simply register a ton of firms, businesses, partnerships and corporations. Then as long as those groups own “real property” within the municipality they could vote. Well consider that somebody who wanted extra votes could simply buy a plot of land, subdivide it as many time as needed. Then sell it to a variety of business fronts so they own real property. At that point they could vote for each and every business front they created. That means people could literally and legally buy votes.
Though if you thought that was bad don’t worry it gets worse. Not only can businesses vote in elections they can also run in elections. Sections 4, 5 & 6 provide provisions for businesses to run for municipal office, mayor or city council. That means a corporation could literally become the mayor of a town. Who needs lobbyists anymore when you can set up your company as the mayor and/or city council? This would massively enhancing corporate control of the US political system. Not only could companies directly vote, they could create new entities to give them extra votes thus providing those with enough money multiple votes in elections. But beyond that companies can even be elected to office and hold direct control over parts of the government.
Combined with the flood of money from the Citizen’s United elections in MT could simply be bought. Anonymous donor can fund shadowy businesses in order to create entities to vote and run for office which could allow them to swing elections in their favor. Finally here is a link to the bill as introduced. A couple things for you to note when you read this if you haven’t read legislation before. Everything with a ‘strike’ through would be removed from current law if the bill becomes law. Anything that is underlined would be added to current law if the bill becomes law.
A bill introduced by Montana state Rep. Steve Lavin would give corporations the right to vote in municipal elections:
Provision for vote by corporate property owner. (1) Subject to subsection (2), if a firm, partnership, company, or corporation owns real property within the municipality, the president, vice president, secretary, or other designee of the entity is eligible to vote in a municipal election as provided in [section 1].
(2) The individual who is designated to vote by the entity is subject to the provisions of [section 1] and shall also provide to the election administrator documentation of the entity’s registration with the secretary of state under 35-1-217 and proof of the individual’s designation to vote on behalf of the entity.