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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Broward County To Auction Off Polling Station Sponsorships to Corporations

As Buddy Nevins reports in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes recently announced a plan to sell sponsorships of polling stations to corporations. According to the article, under the Voter System Technicians Partnership Program, corporations would provide trained workers for a polling station in return for sponsorship rights -- corporate logos on the workers' clothing, outside the polling station, etc.

Well, it's about time. For too long now, polling places have lagged behind the rest of our democracy in being owned lockstockandbarrel by wealthy interests.

Corporations already dominate elections through massive spending on political contributions and campaign spending by "trade associations". Corporations already dominate governmental decision-making through massive spending on lobbying, not to mention the political contributions which get "their guys" into office in the first place.

So why not corporate polling places? If the candidates on the ballot are there thanks in large part to contributions from corporate interests, shouldn't corporations at least get some credit? By Jove, it's only fair that they get to plaster their logo on the workers and walls of polling stations across the country.

And while we're at it, why not corporate logos on politicians, like NASCAR? When corporate America's favorite sons and daughters make a speech on the floor of the legislature, they could drape themselves in the colors and symbols of their political patrons . . . The gentlelady from Exxon now recognizes the gentleman from Citibank for five minutes.

Or why not corporate sponsorship of the U.S. Capitol? Or the White House? Heck, the Lincoln bedroom is just begging to be sponsored by Chrysler. The fare served in the State Dining Room might not be exactly what the little piggy ate, but think: an official Arby's sponsorship would certainly beef up (sorry) the chain's claim to being "America's Roast Beef, Yes Sir!"

But back to reality: elections in representative democracy can and should be about reflecting all the differing viewpoints of the electorate, including the shareholders and employees of corporations, even if that means elections are sometimes rancorous. But while campaigns should include all the voices of society, any forum in which we cast our vote should not favor or promote any segment of society. These are public places, some of democracy's most hallowed ground, and their integrity should not be up for sale to the highest bidder.

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