20 September 2014

Renewed concerns have been raised since the election about the accuracy and
accountability of electronic voting machines. Numerous charges have surfaced in
Ohio and elsewhere that, among other problems, voters touched the name on the
screen for one Presidential candidate but a vote was cast for another
candidate. The overall general concern is that only electronic voting corporation
officials have access to the computer code(s) while the public is left out of the
vote counting equation. Public Board of Election officials are replaced by
Election Systems & Software (ES&S) corporation, Sequioa corporation and
Ohio-based Diebold Election Systems corporation-programmed machines to tabulate votes
in public elections.

The increasing corporatization of vote counting is simply a step in closing
the circle of corporatization of Presidential elections in our society.

At the "front end" of the process, business corporations, thanks to federal
court decisions declaring that corporations are "persons," increasingly
influence elections by determining who will be "electable, " that is who has the
ability to raise the huge amounts of money from corporate Political Action
Committees (PACs) required to be competitive. Once candidates pass the money test,
corporate PACs donate (or invest) tens of millions of dollars to candidate
campaigns and national political parties.

In the "middle" electoral stages, business corporations invest tens of
millions of dollars for "independent" advertisements and organizations to support or
oppose candidates, thereby, framing the debate of what issues will and will
not be discussed. They poll voters and announce results. They virtually
underwrite the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. The same goes for the
Presidential debates.

Corporatization of vote counting by the ES&S and Diebold corporations is
simply closure at the "back end" of what is still one public piece of the
elections circle -- at least until all votes are counted by corporate machines rather
than human hands. Corporate media consortiums have for some time been
responsible for announcing "red" and "blue" states on election night -- sometimes even
before polls even close.

All this, of course, doesn't include the corporate sponsorship of election
parties, balls, and other frivolities leading up to and following the
Inauguration in January.

Much, though not all, of this applies as well to elections of other federal,
state, and even many local candidates and campaigns.

Is it any wonder why the interests of business corporations dominate public
policies at every level of government, whether Republicans or Democrats are in
office? Isn't it time to fundamentally question why and how business
corporations have acquired Constitutional "rights" to be involved in politics? Shoudn't
our highest priority be creating laws and rules which permit all human beings
the opportunity to profoundly affect decisions affecting their lives? What's
little left of representative democracy in our state and country is at stake.

Greg Coleridge


Economic Justice & Empowerment Program, Northeast Ohio American Friends
Service Committee (a Quaker social action organization)

Author: Citizens over Corporations: A Brief History of Democracy in Ohio and
Challenges to Freedom in the Future