Ballot secrecy is being eroded

The spirit of free elections has been gradually but consistently whittled away over the last decade or two in our state and needs to be addressed.

The onset of electronic voting machines, while helpful for charting voter accountability and fighting voting fraud, brought into question the sincerity of the “secret ballot.”

Then there was the period where voters were forced to declare a party, also a threat to the concept of the “secret ballot.”

Now we have a court ruling allowing release of the names of individuals signing petitions, which is a necessary check on our state legislative system to get voter initiated issues on the ballot. Signing such petitions is an indirect part of the voting process. Logic would follow, then, that the concept of the secret ballot is being violated by the vengeance of out-of-state activist Tom Lang.

The mandatory mail-in ballot, once reserved for the infirm, jet setters, college students and military, has robbed our community of the very concept of “election day.” Gone is the solemn ritual of coming together as a community to cast a secret ballot. More importantly, gone is voter confidence in the secret ballot. How plausible is it that a mail-in ballot could be “lost” due to suspicions of the vote contained, due to what might be known about the voting practices of the person whose signature is on the envelope? The mandatory mail-in ballot is a threat to the secret ballot concept of our American democracy, and so is publishing names of petition signers.

Elizabeth S.K. Thoreson

Snohomish

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