This notion that voting should be a “social” rather than a “personal” act is a perennial progressive refrain. They insist that elections should be a kind of public celebration of democracy during which we salute the political diversity of our families, friends, and neighbors. That isn’t how it would work, of course. “Open voting” would instead provide countless new opportunities for “introducing shame into the calculus of citizenship,” and its primary targets would be voters who dare to cast ballots for the “wrong” candidates. This kind of social coercion was commonplace before the advent of the secret ballot, and it is one of the best arguments for preserving it.
All of which brings us to the greatest current threat to ballot secrecy — voting by mail. By definition mail-in ballots are filled out far beyond the supervision of election officials. Moreover, studies confirm that at least a third are done in the presence of other individuals unknown. Consequently, at the very least, social coercion rears its ugly head yet again. The only way to protect the secret ballot is in-person voting at properly supervised polling places. Thus far, early in-person voting by Republicans is far outpacing the Democrats in a number of battleground states — including Florida — and GOP turnout is all but certain to overwhelm Democratic turnout today as well.
The Democrats are about to learn that the “shy Trump voter” has been hiding in plain sight. Tonight, regardless of how reluctant the media will be to call key states like Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, the outcome will already be obvious when these voters appear at the polls in numbers that cannot be overcome by “late-arriving” mail-in ballots. They will cast in-person, secret ballots and will be impervious to suppression. The Democrats will stall, but the election will be over tonight.