In today’s Barron’s Online, Jim McTague has published an excellent piece critical of EFCA and in support of the secret ballot, generally. In "Card Check Makes for Strange Bedfellows," McTague writes:
Obama’s stance on the Employee Free Choice Act, introduced in Congress last week and likely to be retooled many times before coming to a vote, is outrageously backward for a man who says he’s a progressive change agent. With the stroke of a pen, our president would reverse one of the great, unsung civil-rights movements in the history of Western democracies, a battle that set liberal reformers against corrupt, vested interests who controlled the general electorate through bribery and intimidation, and consequently accrued outsized political and financial power. The secret ballot (the anonymous ballot used today in the elections of modern democracies) finally broke the corrupt grip of these despicable men. They no longer knew with certainty if the voter whom they’d either blackmailed or bribed had cast his ballot as promised. Paying for votes immediately became a mug’s game.
Even Chairman Mao in the 1960s recognized secret balloting’s benefits for parliamentary elections. In the 1980s, the Chinese began using secret balloting in local elections, in part to stem bribery.
Secret balloting in the U.S. was inspired by 19th-century progressive reformers in England and Australia, who saw that open balloting left voters vulnerable to intimidation by political machines and landed aristocrats. Before the so-called Australian ballot became pre-eminent here, many voters in presidential elections either cast their votes orally, with a poll worker recording it on a ballot, or had poll workers help them check off candidates’ names.
Open-ballot advocates claimed this helped the illiterate participate in elections. But they lost that argument: In 1892, the secret ballot was adopted by most U.S. states. In that year, Democrat Grover Cleveland defeated Republican Benjamin Harrison in the first U.S. presidential election conducted largely by secret ballot.
His conclusion is one we’ve argued before: after pointing out that EFCA’s proponents argue that employer coercion and intimidation during organizing drives is already against the law, but the law is rarely enforced, McTague asks simply:
SO WHY NOT JUST ENFORCE CURRENT law instead of giving the union movement the opportunity to engage in the same sort of coercive behavior it condemns?
It’s an excellent question that no one supporting card-check has chosen to answer.