In ancient Greece, secret ballots were used to hide votes from people seeking favors. Certain special votes, such as one to ostracize and thereby expel a citizen from Athens were also cast in private. In ancient Rome, the secret ballot was introduced to all popular assemblies in 139 BC. The constitution in France required that “All elections are to be held by secret ballot” since 1795. The secret ballot was also established generally in the British Ballot Act 1872. The individual states within the USA had completed their move to secret ballots when Kentucky adopted them in 1891.
Internationally, the right to hold elections by secret ballot is included in a variety of treaties and international agreements affecting their signatory states. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “The will of the people…shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which…shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.” The American Convention on Human Rights grants to every citizen of member states, of the Organization of American States, the right and opportunity “to vote and to be elected in genuine periodic elections, which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and by secret ballot that guarantees the free expression of the will of the voters”.
The Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension, obligates the member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to “ensure that votes are cast by secret ballot or by equivalent free voting procedure, and that they are counted and reported honestly with the official results made public.” The Convention on the Standards of Democratic Elections, Electoral Rights and Freedoms in the Member States of the Commonwealth of Independent States obligates electoral bodies not to perform “any action violating the principle of voter’s secret will expression.”
Within any authentic democratic republic, the votes of elected representatives are cast in public while the votes of individual citizens as they elect their representatives are cast in secret. Today, the authenticity of our democracy and the secrecy of ballots cast within the United States are increasingly undermined by partisan operatives due to a combination of executive malfeasance, legislative ineptitude, and judicial buffoonery. On the 13th of July in 2021, an Oklahoma lawmaker requested that the state election board call for a forensic and independent audit of the 2020 General Election results. The Republican candidate for president won the state by a margin of over 33% in the 2020 election. One must wonder about the motivation behind such a request, especially since the legislator’s favored candidate won every county within the state.
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