Seaford, Delaware is trying to give corporations the right to vote in elections, further diluting the voice of actual people and communities in politics.
Seaford is a small town on the Nanticoke River, in the southwest corner of the small state. It has a population of about 8,000. Like most of Delaware, it has a reputation of being very business-friendly. In the state, registered businesses outnumber humans by almost two to one. Currently, there are 234 business entities headquartered in the town.
In April, Seaford amended its town charter to allow businesses (defined as locally registered LLCs, corporations, trusts, or partnerships) to vote in local elections. The law can go into affect if both houses of Delaware’s state legislature approve it, which they likely will. Several other Delaware towns have already had similar laws approved.
Under the proposal, corporate entities must register as voters with City Hall and include a list of their beneficial owners; city officials are then intended to cross-check these lists with resident voter rolls to prevent double voting, according to the proposal. The cross-checking is intended to throttle a problem that nearby Newark had with the same law, when a property manager used it to legally vote 31 times.
However, Snyder-Hall noted that the legislation only outlaws double voting for human residents of Seaford, permitting it for out-of-town business owners.
“If you’re a snowbird (a resident of the town who leaves for whole seasons), you don’t get to vote twice — once in Florida and once in Delaware,” she said.
But an out-of-town business owner could vote as many times as they own businesses in the town. It only costs $500 to register a business license; for only $4 million, anyone could buy more votes than there are human voters in the town. But fewer than 350 people vote in the average Seaford local ballot, meaning one would only have to pay $175,000 to sweep any local election.