The following is a guest post from Cobb County GOP First Vice Chairman Justin Tomczak:
Last Saturday, I gathered with my fellow 11th District Republicans at our convention. We conducted party business, heard speeches from our elected officials and had an all-around great time. Decisions were made in accordance with Roberts Rules of Order and were voted on by the delegates who were elected at the county conventions in March.
Our convention started at 10:00 a.m., and we began voting for district officers by secret ballot at some point around lunchtime. After our new chairman was elected (congratulations to Brad Carver), I made a motion that all future ballots be voted upon by a standing vote. The individual secret ballot for chair took about 45 minutes to conduct, and we had numerous other ballots following. At the pace we were going, the convention would have lasted well into the night.
Several people rose to speak against my motion. Some accused me of “union thug tactics,” voter intimidation, and undermining the constitutionally established role of the secret ballot in our electoral system. The pushback was loud, and the motion failed. Due in part to this vote (and a later vote against a similar motion), the convention lasted until 4:00 p.m.
As the hours dragged on, people slowly trickled out due to family and other commitments. The argument over secret v. public ballots is not unique to the 11th District, and I’m sure it will be a topic of discussion at our state convention next month. In anticipation of this debate, I would like to submit a point for consideration:
Convention votes are made by delegates. According to Dictionary.com, a delegate is
“a person designated to act for or represent another or others; deputy; representative, as in a political convention.”
When we vote at conventions, we are not voting as individual voters at the ballot box. We are voting on behalf of those we represent. Our votes as delegates should be public because the people who sent us to represent them have a right to know how we voted, just as we all have a right to know how publicly elected officials vote on our behalf. Would any among us support our elected officials doing away with public votes in favor of a secret ballot?
In my humble opinion, the argument for secret ballots at conventions confuses the rights of an individual with the responsibilities of a delegate/representative, whose duty is to vote on behalf of those individuals who sent them.
I am interested to hear your perspectives.