Has the Referendum Debate Taken Away our Right to a Secret Ballot?

The Ballot Act of 1872 introduced the requirement that parliamentary and local government elections in the United Kingdom be held by secret ballot.

Before this landowners had been able to use their sway over employees and tenants to influence their votes in elections. This was done by either being present themselves or by sending representatives to check on the votes as they were being cast. Radicals, such as the Chartists had long campaigned for this

Since then the way people choose to vote is rarely ever discussed openly and certainly no one is forced to disclose who they have voted for in current or previous elections. However the Independence debate has arguably sparked a change.

The Yes campaign and the Better Together campaign have been very active in the media and because of this it is generally accepted for people to give their opinions either way and by doing so contribute to the contentious  debate.  However is this not encroaching on our right and freedom to a secret ballot?

Many people wear the “YES” badge or the “Better Together” badge, by doing so they are letting others know how they intend to vote in the up coming Referendum. If this were an ordinary election this would be a rare occurrence with it being thought that only hardcore supporters of particular parties tend to make it know how they will be voting. Not only this but by openly wearing a badge stating which way you intend to vote people are leaving themselves open to unwanted confrontation.

The Independence Referendum debate is a deeply contested issue and the issues surrounding it need to be addressed for the public to make an informed decision at the polling station in September this year. But does that mean that our rights to privacy and secret ballot are hindered in the process?

Although it’s to be acknowledged that people have a right to project their opinions, in this type of issue does the openness to which people discuss their opinions damage the democratic voting process?

(This article does not look to criticizes people who choose to openly display their personal opinions its merely to raise questions.)

Photo Credits:

www.scotsman.com

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mycouncillor.org.uk