Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

On a Secret Ballot

Posted by Adam Graham on March 29, 2007

Mountain Goat’s latest attack on the effort for party registration bears some response:

The Idaho Constitution guarantees “an absolutely secret ballot.”


SECTION 1. SECRET BALLOT GUARANTEED. All elections by the people must be by ballot. An absolutely secret ballot is hereby guaranteed, and it shall be the duty of the legislature to enact such laws as shall carry this section into effect.

How would a court interpret that in light of the attempts to require party registration and public declaration of ballot selection for primary elections?

While Wikipedia is not a great legal source generally, they provide a good definition of “secret ballot“:

The secret ballot is a voting method in which a voter’s choices are confidential. The key aim is to ensure the voter records a sincere choice by forestalling attempts to influence the voter by intimidation or bribery.

In essence, on a secret ballot, no one knows how I voted. Closed primaries don’t violate that principle. How you vote remains confidential, all we learn is what choices you’re given. If knowing that someone had a choice of 6 Republican Candidates for Congress violates “the secret ballot” than we have a very serious problem in the general election, because we know all the choices that people are presented.

In addition, the claims of the Idaho Republican Party would be based on the Constitution of the US which would supersede Idaho’s should it come to that.

2 Responses to “On a Secret Ballot”

  1. In some instances merely choosing the ballot is indication of your vote and the Idaho Constitution does carry the word “absolutely.” It is a valid constitutional question.

    We’re just never going to agree on this one, Adam.

  2. Adam Graham [Member] said

    That would be a novel legal theory indeed, and I’m not necessarily trying to convince you, but for the sake of “all the folks at home” who happen upon this discussion, I can’t let “legal arguments” like this stand. It’s very specious. In addition, the Constitution of US grants freedom of association.

    You want to take away my right to choose a nominee for my party and with respect, I’ve got to fight that to my last breath.

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