Monday, March 9, 2009

Utah 1st State to Give Voters Right to Constitutionally Secure Secret Ballots, Will Be on 2010 Ballot

SOS Ballot Secures Public Vote in Utah for Secret Ballot Constitutional Amendment; 1st State to Give Voters Right to Constitutionally Secure Secret Ballots Strongly Backed by Gov. Huntsman, Sen. Hatch, AG Shurtleff

/PRNewswire/ -- A constitutional amendment to guarantee the use of secret ballots in Utah elections, including in union organizing elections, has passed the Utah State Senate, ensuring a place on the November 2010 ballot. House Joint Resolution 8 was introduced in the State House by Rep. Carl Wimmer (R-Herriman), where the measure also passed with a 2/3rd vote earlier in the week. The amendment had the strong backing of Governor Huntsman, US Senator Orrin Hatch and Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, and becomes the first of what is likely to be a dozen or more states to place constitutional guarantees for secret ballots before the voters. Attorney General Shurtleff is a member of the National Advisory Board of Save Our Secret Ballot, the national group organizing similar movements in states throughout the country.

SOS Ballot National Advisory Board Chairman Rep. Ernest Istook commented, "Utahans are fortunate to have leaders like Rep. Wimmer as well as Governor Huntsman, Senator Hatch and Attorney General Shurtleff who understand just how imperiled and vulnerable the right to a secret ballot is. We applaud their leadership in making this issue a top priority and look forward to working with them to make sure Utahans never have to fear losing their right to a secret ballot. While Utah is the first state, it will soon be joined by other states in giving voters the right to protect the secret ballot. We won in Utah because voters want secret ballots protected. We will win in a dozen or more states this election cycle because voters are appalled that Congress would acquiesce to the extreme demands of Union bosses and threaten the right to a secret ballot."

Similar efforts have been launched by SOS Ballot in Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina and South Dakota with additional states soon to be announced. The 47-word amendment says:

"The right of individuals to vote by secret ballot is fundamental. Where state or federal law requires elections for public office or public votes on initiatives or referenda, or designations or authorizations of employee representation, the right of individuals to vote by secret ballot shall be guaranteed."

Utah Governor John Huntsman extended his support to HJR 8 with the following statement:

"It is ever important for Utahans to have the right to vote their conscience in areas that are critical to their democratic representation and the representation within their employment without the fear of retribution or persecution. This constitutional amendment would ensure that individuals will be constitutionally guaranteed the right to a secret ballot for these types of important election. This issue is fundamental to our economic development efforts as a State and safeguards our State's long tradition of being a 'right to work' state ­- a position that is grounded in individual rights and freedoms," he continued.

Recent public opinion polls taken in the states where SOS Ballot has announced efforts show huge public support of 81% to 94%, with Union members even more supportive of the constitutional guarantee for a secret ballot than non-union members.

The secret ballot was used locally as an act of post-Civil war southern reconstruction, first as a way to impose a literacy requirement on newly freed slaves. But the secret ballot also protected mostly black voters who faced physical intimidation, even lynching, depending on how their vote was cast. Secret ballots were first used statewide in the Massachusetts governor's race 1888 and nationally in 1892 to elect President Grover Cleveland.

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