Howard McKeon

When three of the top policymakers in Washington voice explicit support for a particular viewpoint, it merits notice.

When that viewpoint is unambiguous support of the sanctity of the secret ballot, it makes news. Particularly this year, when conventional wisdom holds that congressional Democrats are poised to eliminate the secret ballot in unionizing elections, a trio of influential voices advocating for secret ballots ought to make a real splash.

Consider, then, these powerful quotes.

“It’s a secret ballot. Thank the Lord.”

“[T]he increased use of the secret ballot in union recognition elections will help bring real democracy to the … workplace.”

“[W]e need to follow proper rules of procedure and hold a vote by secret ballot. It is important that the integrity … be unquestioned and above reproach.”

Thanking a higher power for privacy at the ballot box? That was New York Rep. Louise Slaughter, the Democratic Chair of the powerful U.S. House Committee on Rules. The panel she chairs has the authority to determine whether or not a bill or a particular amendment will receive a vote on the House floor.

Her quote was not speaking to the importance of secret ballots for working men and women, however; it was simply her appreciation for her own privacy in a hotly contested Democratic leadership election, in which congressional Democrats ousted their longest serving member from his post atop the Energy and Commerce Committee.

No wonder she valued her privacy.

And who extolled the virtues of secret ballot unionizing elections as bringing real democracy to the workplace? That was none other than my good friend and fellow Californian Rep. George Miller, the chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, which sets federal policy for American workplaces.

A word was omitted from Rep. Miller’s quote as printed above; in fairness, the complete statement should be presented. It says that increased use of the secret ballot in union recognition elections will help bring real democracy to the Mexican workplace, and it comes from a letter written in 2001 by Rep. Miller and 15 fellow congressional Democrats to Mexican government officials in support of secret ballots to resolve unionizing drives in their workplaces.


Howard McKeon

Congressman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon has represented the 25th Congressional District of California since 1992. .

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