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General News    H3'ed 1/27/10

How The American People Can Defeat Unlimited Corporate Money and Influence in Elections

By Kathleen Wynne (With Contributions by Karen Renick)  Posted by Karen Renick (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   2 comments
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"There is a dangerous, misguided movement out there that if we just let business rule the nation, all will be well -- markets will take care of themselves, health care, jobs, just let business handle it. You know who says that the loudest? Business. And now, it can say it even louder. It can shout down any candidate who opposes it. What happened to "of the people, by the people, for the people'?"

(Excerpt from "Big Biz Needed No Help In The Election Game", by Mitch Albom, columnist, Detroit Free Press, click here)

The country is rightfully reeling from the recent U.S. Supreme Court's partisan 5/4 decision this past Thursday ruling that the "government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections." This decision, without question, continues the devastation of the power of the people in the elections process by ruling that corporations are "persons" who have a First Amendment Right to make campaign contributions without any kind of restriction.

What average citizen can compete with the lobbyists who already have overwhelming influence on our representatives, as well as compete with the deep pocket campaign contributions of our fellow "persons", Big Business? Campaigns have already become "marketing" campaigns designed to sell a brand or personality more than be a campaign of ideas among the candidates. The American people already know that unlimited ability by a corporation to make campaign contributions to a certain candidate will surely undermine the "checks and balances" that our Founders intended for the elections process which were meant to be the sovereign province of "we, the people", not "we, the corporations."

The initial devastation of the essential balance of power between citizens and big business at the ballot box was the advent of voting machines in the elections process. These machines make it impossible for any citizen to oversee the counting of their votes due to the hidden counting by the voting software that runs the machines. Secret vote counting combined with the Court's most recent decision has rendered a citizen's role in the elections process virtually non-existent, which is tantamount to not having an election at all. How is this good for democracy?

Not surprisingly, citizens of all political persuasions are already protesting the Court's decision because they can so clearly see the impending danger to the People's role in elections and understand that the kind of money that corporations will use now to influence elections will most assuredly diminish, if not totally destroy, our freedom and way of life. In stark contrast, it has been so incredibly difficult for citizens to readily grasp that our right to control and visually witness the entire process of voting to know for certain that the persons truly chosen by the people have been elected has been stolen from us by government officials who cleverly convinced us to replace the ballot box of old with the way of the future -- computerized voting.

For years, election integrity advocates have compiled a mountain of evidence against the use of these machines to no avail. The voting machine corporations have spent large sums of money on lobbyists and marketing these machines and have far too much support from politicians, election officials, computer security experts and powerful interest groups intent on keeping these machines an integral part of our elections process. They are marketed as "faster, easier and more secure!" Is democracy preserved when voting is allowed to be marketed as "fast and easy" rather than "public and accurate"? Despite investigations that definitively uncovered the truth about the dangers these machines pose to election integrity, which were featured in the Emmy nominated HBO documentary film, Hacking Democracy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVlZTWH7u8w), our government is determined to maintain the current status quo.

It is important to note that American election integrity advocates haven't been the only ones protesting the use of electronic voting machines counting their votes in secret. Citizens of other democratic republics, such as, Ireland, The Netherlands and India, are but a few of the growing number of countries that have either banned e-voting or are presently fighting to ban them and demanding a return to hand counts and the kind of voting every citizen can oversee and understand. The most recent has been Germany.

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Karen Renick is the founder and co-director of VoteRescue, a non-partisan election integrity group based in Austin, TX. VoteRescue has advocated for hand-counted paper ballots since 2005 at the county, state and federal levels. Over the years, (more...)
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