When the Democrats made card check their top priority, many wrote it off as something only for unions. Card check is the policy that allows unions to get certified by simply getting enough signatures and bypassing the voting process that allows for a secret ballot to determine if workers really want to unionize.
On Election Day in 2008, when Black Panthers armed with clubs occupied a polling station in Pennsylvania and shouted at voters going into the booths, many wrote it off as involving only one polling booth (even if the Department of Justice dropped all charges and "reassigned" the prosecutor who opened the investigation in the first place).
What if a state Attorney General argued that voters for any political election simply had no fundamental right to privacy on Election Day? Would we take notice then?
Consider the following words argued in Champaign County Court in Illinois by the Illinois Attorney General's office headed by Lisa Madigan:
While plaintiff attempts to suggest to the Court that there is a fundamental right to a secret ballot, no such right exists. (bottom of Page 11 of pleading)
The issue at hand is the result of a law changed in 2007 with SB 662. The bill clocked in at just under 200 pages and, as is custom in Illinois, rank-and-file legislators didn't read the bill. Tucked in this legislation were a few small clauses that required voting machines to reject any ballot where a voter did not vote in all races. Seems okay so far.
However, after rejecting the ballot an election judge comes down to have a conversation with the voter. On paper, at least, they give the voter three choices: fix the ballot, get a new ballot, or go home and your vote isn't counted. There are plenty of reasons to not vote in every race but the most important is that a voter should be able to vote however they please without an election judge questioning them on it.
The important thing to note is that the Illinois Attorney General did not argue that an election judge having a conversation violated the secret ballot. The Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, daughter of the political patriarch of Illinois Michael Madigan, said voters have no right to a secret ballot in the first place.
One would think during an election year Republicans would be shouting from the rooftops about this. However, in Illinois, Republicans can be just as complicit in corruption as Democrats. Only one Republican candidate for Governor has stood up to challenge Democrats on this issue, Adam Andrzejewski. One of his competitors voted FOR this bill. Another was too busy to vote. All have been quiet on this issue.
There is no right more critical to the legitimacy of a democratic republic than the right to vote and to have that vote be private. With the storied cases of voter fraud in Illinois and cases involving the Black Panthers and ACORN across the nation, the fact that the Democratic political establishment in Illinois is saying no right to a secret ballot exists should be a clarion call. The worst part is that Republicans, save Adam Andrzejewski and a small cadre of Republican reformers in lesser offices such as Mark Shelden who is the Champaign County Clerk, are silent if not complicit on the issue.
In 2010, Illinois voters have the opportunity to choose whether to follow the George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich pattern of corruption or turn a new page. How they vote in the primary on February 2 will tell us whether voters are truly fed up and ready for change.