Eyes In The Voting Booth

When I walk behind the curtain with my ballot in my hand
There is no one standing looking over me
Why a ballot must be secret, I am sure you understand,
And agree that it’s the way it ought to be
If a stranger or a neighbor could be standing right beside me
Or my union or employer could take notes
Or my pastor, priest, or rabbi could decide they need to guide me
One might wonder who was really casting votes
But in all too many places, while you’re voting in seclusion
Jesus watches you, and helps your soul to search;
The first amendment builds a wall preventing such collusion
So it’s time to get our voting out of church!

Over at our new friend Blue Collar Atheist, Hank Fox writes about the all-too-common phenomenon of voting in churches. It really isn’t a stretch at all to think that the presence of religious symbols would have an effect on voting; something as simple as a photograph of eyes on a wall has effects on people’s behavior. And there is not a lifetime (for some) of experience with those eyes, like there is for the religious symbols, to move behavior in a particular direction.

As Hank Fox notes, it is not unusual for churches to have explicitly held positions on ballot issues. Given the possibility (at least!) of conflict of interest, there is every reason to eliminate the practice of voting in churches.


  1. Greg Laden says

    Very, very good point.

    When I was a kid the voting for my ward was done in a fire house, but there was someone looking over the curtain to see what you were doing in the voting booth. A mortal. Party hack.

  2. Charles Sullivan says

    It’s all vote by mail in Oregon, so we don’t have that problem. I think it might be the same in Washington state now too.

  3. oxalis says

    Vote by mail is potentially a big problem (probably not as bad as hacking non-paper trail voting machines, and some of the rethuglican dirty tricks though). Strong personality in the household/religious compound? Guess who does all the voting. Want to buy someone’s vote? Now you can–with the guarantee that you’re actually getting what you paid for. It can also disenfranchise people without a mailing address.


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