When I first read this headline, “Montana Bill Would Give Corporations The Right To Vote,” I thought, what a brilliant protest strategy! It is, I thought, what philosophers would call “reductio ad absurdum,” or the art of taking your argument to its most absurd extreme to show the ridiculousness of your opponent’s side. Unfortunately, it seems, Montana State Rep. Steve Lavin (R), is very serious about granting voting rights to corporations. Here is the bill from Think Progress:
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.
Despite common opinion, corporate personhood did not begin with 2010’s Citizen’s United vs. The Federal Election Commission case. It actually began when the country was just over a century old. In 1886, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations had the same protections under the law as people in matters of property ownership.
In 1971, the court furthered corporate personhood by ruling that corporations, despite having the ability to offshore many of their assets, have the same tax rate as people.
Citizen’s United, however, gave corporate personhood a whole new dimension when it granted an unlimited political voice, in the form of money, to corporations, even if those corporations are headquartered outside of the country. However, few have gone so far as to suggest that corporations should actually have the vote.
If you carefully read the wording of Lavin’s bill, it could be interpreted that as long as a business has a location in the municipality, they will have a vote. Arkansas based Walmart could have a vote. Each McDonald’s franchise in the town could have a vote.
Lavin has strong ties to the American Legislative and Exchange Council (ALEC), where he was part of a task force that, among other things, promoted making it more difficult for actual people to vote by requiring IDs.
It’s safe to assume that Montana’s voters wouldn’t respond too favorably to granting corporations the vote. In last year’s general election, Montana and Colorado both overwhelmingly passed anti-corporate personhood resolutions.
Lavin doesn’t only care about corporations. His bill, which declared that roadkill could be used as food, passed the House last week. It’s unclear whether he’ll suggest that corporations eat roadkill.
Fortunately, it looks as if his corporate voting bill, unlike the roadkill bill, won’t even get a vote. It was tabled shortly after its introduction. Even if the bill were to get past both the Montana House and the Senate, it’s unlikely that the bill would be signed into law by the state’s Democratic Governor, who, as Attorney General, argued against Citizen’s United in the state’s highest court.
|Wendy Gittleson grew up in a political family. Her passion is for social justice and fairness. She is the Senior Editor for Addicting Info. She lives in a union household. In her rare downtime, you’ll find her hiking or exploring the shoreline with her dogs. Follow her on her Facebook page or on Twitter, @wendygittleson|