Artificial entities should not have a vote

June 6, 2023

Several years ago, the people of Rehoboth Beach rose up to prevent a proposal to let artificial entities (corporations, LLCs and trusts) vote in Rehoboth town elections. But now the Delaware House is considering a bill that would allow artificial entities to vote in Seaford town elections (House Substitute 1 for House Bill 121). 

Honestly, I find that proposal shocking. It is an outrageous attempt to give wealthy property owners who do not live in Seaford – and might not even live in Delaware – a say in Seaford town elections. And it allows corporations to vote, even though, despite the opinions of some, corporations are not actually people and thus should never be given the right to vote. 

Ten years ago in Delaware, after a major campaign finance scandal that sent people to prison, Chief Justice Norm Veasey issued a report calling for a law that prohibits artificial entities from making campaign contributions. His recommendation has never been implemented, but HS 1 for HB 121 doubles down in the wrong direction. It puts artificial entities on steroids by giving them the right to vote, a right that should be reserved for flesh-and-blood human beings. 

The Seaford mayor supports the right of businesses to vote. “There are people who have invested a ton of money in our town – in businesses – and then wonder why they can’t vote … just because they live outside of city limits," he said. “They can’t vote … but their employees can.”  

With all due respect to the mayor, that is absurd. People who don’t live in Seaford – or even in Delaware – should not get to vote in town elections, even if they own a business in Seaford. And of course, the employees get to vote. They live there! That’s how it works. People get to vote where they live – and not because they own property, but simply because they live there.  

People who snowbird in Florida do not get to vote in both Delaware and Florida. It doesn’t work that way. In this country, the wealthy don’t get to vote multiple times in multiple places. It’s one person, one vote. And by "person," I mean human being.

While it’s true that some municipalities already allow corporations to vote in town elections, we need to change their charters so that cannot continue to happen. We certainly do not want that practice to spread.  

In short, wealthy people should not be allowed to vote more than once, and corporations should never be allowed to vote. And that is why no other state allows it.

If you live in the 14th District, please ask Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf to vote no on HS 1 for HB 121. If you live in the 20th District, please ask Rep. Stell Parker Selby to vote no on HS 1 for HB 121. We have to stop this bill before the antidemocratic idea of corporate voting spreads.

Claire Snyder-Hall
Executive director
Common Cause DE
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