Frequently Searched

Will civil libertarians defend the secret ballot?

November 4, 2014

[W]e feel that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose. So wrote Rep. George Miller (D-CA) and 15 colleagues in a 2001 letter to the Mexican government.

Why then is Miller sponsoring legislation nowthe Orwellian-named Employee Free Choice Actthat would eliminate the secret ballot for authorizing union representation in this country?

Under the card-check system, a union is recognized if a certain percentage of employees sign cards designating a union. In contrast to the privacy of the secret ballot, a card-check system invites intimidation. That is why Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), President-elect Barack Obamas choice for Secretary of Labor, protested the lack of a secret ballot in leadership elections for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in 2007. Yet, she too now backs the card-check system.

No less a champion of unions than former Senator George McGovern has proclaimed that its hard to believe that any politicians would agree to denying millions of employees the right to a private vote.

Its understandable that unions, which have hemorrhaged millions of members, would prefer coercion to private choice. But where will groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and People for the American Way come down? After all, few things are more central to the American way than voting by secret ballot.

I have helped draft a proposed amendment to state constitutions, including Arizonas, that would protect the right to secret ballot. Will civil libertarians join me in championing it?

Clint Bolick is the director of the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation.

Learn More:

Save Our Secret Ballot

Arizona Republic: Coalition moves to keep vote for unions private



More on this issue

Donate Now

Help all Americans live freer, happier lives. Join the Goldwater Institute as we defend and strengthen freedom in all 50 states.

Donate Now

Since 1988, the Goldwater Institute has been in the liberty business — defending and promoting freedom, and achieving more than 400 victories in all 50 states. Donate today to help support our mission.

We Protect Your Rights

Our attorneys defend individual rights and protect those who cannot protect themselves.

Need Help? Submit a case.

Get Connected to Goldwater

Sign up for the latest news, event updates, and more.