By Hans von Spakovsky
The Daily Signal
The secret ballot is a fundamental tenet of American democracy. It was implemented in the United States in the late 1800s to counter widespread instances of bribery and intimidation of voters.
Both houses of the Colorado Legislature recently passed a bill that is now sitting on Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk that would allow voters to take “selfies” of their marked ballots.
This is a very bad idea that would void the secrecy of our ballots and represents a dangerous and unjustified step backward.
By allowing voters to show how they voted, the bill would, in essence, provide a “receipt” that the voter could use to collect an illegal payment for voting for specific candidates, and would open the door to intimidation and threats against voters for not voting a particular way.
In today’s media environment, there are few publications that Americans can rely on to learn the “other” side of the issues.
Good Intentions, Dangerous Consequences
The new Colorado “selfie” bill would modify an 1891 Colorado law intended to prevent vote-buying and intimidation through the disclosure of marked ballots.
The bill provides that “any voter may show his or her voted ballot to any other person” as well as “at a voter service and polling center or at any other location at which votes are being tabulated.”
This bill may have been intended to accommodate our modern cultural obsession with “selfies,” but it actually makes Colorado elections vulnerable.
It would subject Colorado elections to the same types of bad (and illegal) behavior that historians have documented in American elections, and that the secret ballot—first adopted in Australia in 1856—was intended to stop.