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A ballot initiative that would allow voters to decide if the Missouri Constitution should be amended to protect the right to vote by secret ballot has one more hurdle to clear after the House passed the resolution last week.
House Joint Resolution 37, sponsored by Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville, would guarantee that all elections including union votes to be conducted by secret ballot.
At issue is the way representation votes are handled.
Rep. Bob Nance, R-Excelsior Springs, says having a secret ballot could help eliminate coercion.
“In a secret ballot a man can do what his conscience tells him to,” Nance said. “You don’t want either side to intimidate the individual. I can walk in and tell you I’m pulling for you, but then vote my conscience.”
Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, in his weekly column gave supporting testimony to the issue. He said in the statement that secret balloting makes sense.
“It is a process we have had in this country for most of its existence and it would be a shame to lose it,” Stouffer said in his column. “I pray we see it continue to be the method we use to vote—not only for elected officials, but throughout all aspects making up our democracy.”
Resolution 37 passed the House yesterday on an 82-76 party line vote with the Republican majority giving the affirmative. The resolution now goes to the Senate, where it was read for the first time yesterday.
If successful, the measure would be placed on the ballot statewide for voters to decide.
Stouffer took the issue a step further in his column and spoke out against the federal “Employee Free Choice Act.” Stouffer said he is not against unions but said forcing unions on small businesses is not a good idea. He said unions cost a business $11,500 more a year per employee.
The act would allow up to 10 union members to walk up to employees and ask them to fill out a card. If the union gets 50 percent plus one employee, the workplace automatically becomes union, according to Stouffer. He believes the bill is closer to becoming law this year.
A Missouri Digital News Service story by Emily Coleman reports that those opposed to the resolution say it’s a plot to discourage organization.
“It’s not about secret ballots, it’s not about preserving the ballot. This was all done as a subterfuge in total opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act,” said Rep. Tim Meadows, D-Imperial. “This is going to take away workers’ rights, and the main goal of this is to stomp the living guts out of organized labor and out of workers’ rights.”