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Letter: Would secret balloting change much in the Senate?

As an independent unaffiliated voter watching the squabbling that has gone on during the impeachment hearings between the Republicans and Democrats, I have begun to wonder why the Senate and House of Representatives do not have more secret balloting (or at least secret ballot pre-voting) on critical issues.

It seems to me that a great deal of intimidation and pressure goes to individual senators and representatives to conform to their party’s bosses because of the openness of the balloting. It reminds me of a lot of some labor union elections which rely so much on intimidation because of the lack of having a secret ballot.

I wonder if there wouldn’t be a much greater level of bipartisanship and harmony if more secret balloting were allowed. I’m sure there could be some sort of mechanism to facilitate this. Ultimately, a final vote by the House or Senate should probably be public so that the constituents of each senator and representative would know how their elected official had voted. However, it seems like the Senate and House should require a secret ballot pre-vote on a lot of issues (such as impeachment) so that the public and leadership would know how these representatives may have cumulatively voted if they weren’t being pressured and intimidated.

This way they could compare the outcomes of the cumulative secret ballot pre-vote to the final published vote and see if the outcome would have changed. I admit that I don’t understand the nuances of how House and Senate voting is performed. However, it sure seems like a lot or arm twisting and intimidation goes on — on both sides. It would be nice to know if the outcome would be different if these representatives and senators had been able to freely vote their conscience without fear of retribution.

Reid Swenson

Salt Lake City