Although political debate is often in the public eye and on the public stage, the privacy of a voter’s decision—how he or she marks the ballot—has always been an important part of our democratic process. When this principle of a secret ballot is violated, it should concern us all.
That’s why I was both surprised and troubled by the so-called “secrecy sleeve”, which came as part of the elaborate mail-in referendum ballot package. There’s nothing “secret” about it. It’s a folded piece of paper, which theoretically hides your ballot choice from the eyes of the individual opening your Certification Envelope, which contains your personal ID and signature.
There is no place where the flow of information connecting you and your ballot choice is broken, except by the assumption that the person opening the envelope will not “sneak a peek”. In a proper system, the ballot would be placed in an unmarked sealed envelope; all those sealed envelopes would be removed from the ID envelopes first, and then taken to a separate sorting area to be opened and tallied.
I’m quite surprised at this oversight. It seems so contrary to the whole elaborate process designed to ensure that voters’ ballot choices are not made public unless the voters themselves choose to speak about their choices.