About That Secret Ballot …

We’ve had a number of disturbing reports these last couple of weeks about employers instructing their workers to vote for Romney or risk losing their jobs. It has a chilling effect on free speech, certainly, letting employees know that any public announcement of their support whether it be in conversation or a bumper sticker on their car would put them in danger of losing their job. It’s generally not illegal for an employer to fire workers based on their political views in this country. (And contrary to what everyone’s been saying, this is not due to Citizens United. They’ve always been able to do it, but until recently they still had some shame.) This is a form of intimidation, to be sure, designed to immobilize political activity for the Democrats, even in employees’ private lives.

I have been making the case that at least we have a secret ballot, which protects the vote of everyone, even if these GOP authoritarians are attempting to restrict their employees political activity. A reader wrote in to tell me that I am wrong about that. Get a load of this editorial from The Denver Post:

U.S. District Court Judge Christine Arguello shouldn’t have the last word on whether Colorado voters have a right to expect their ballots will be anonymous. It seems fairly clear to us that the state constitution protects such a right.

Arguello last week dismissed a lawsuit seeking to stop counties from printing ballots with identifying bar codes, saying she didn’t have jurisdiction and suggesting there is no right to a secret ballot. The lawsuit by Citizen Center insisted that such a right is protected by both federal and state constitutions.

I know much of the nation was shocked when Justice Antonin Scalia blithely announced that the constitution doesn’t guarantee a right to vote in Bush vs Gore. I think they would be equally shocked to find out that some judges don’t believe they have the right to a secret ballot either. And unfortunately, I’m guessing that if this issue makes its way to the Supreme Court, we might just have that question “clarified” in a way we don’t care for.

I don’t know where this will go, but I’d guess it’s just the latest in vote intimidation and suppression tactics. I can easily see some people opting out of voting rather than take the chance that some corrupt GOP election official decides to leak their name to their employer. (Again, there’s no law against firing workers for their political beliefs.) In a wage-slave economy, I think voters can be forgiven for being a little bit paranoid.

Without the secret ballot we don’t have a democracy, period.

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