Paul Koeppe
October 11, 2010

States-rights advocates and business owners called Monday for voters to pass an amendment to the Utah Constitution mandating secret ballots in all elections. The measure, Amendment A, notably targets unions.

State law already requires secret ballots for all elections. But supporters say the amendment will strengthen Utah’s case in the likely scenario of a legal challenge if Congress passes the Employee Free Choice Act in its post-election, lame-duck session.

The EFCA would institute “card check,” meaning that a simply majority of employees could create a union in any workplace by signing up. Opponents of the act say that would lead to coercion and intimidation by labor groups.

Royce Van Tassell, vice president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, which helped push the secret-ballot measure through both houses of the state Legislature with two-thirds majorities, said the Goldwater Institute and Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff would defend it in court. Goldwater constitutional scholar Clint Bolick drafted the amendment along with Mike Lee, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Shurtleff said that since several states would join in any legal challenge, the cost to Utah would be minimal, as with the health care reform challenge, whose cost he said was capped at $5,000.

The amendment would “make sure those in positions of power are not looking over your shoulder,” said Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, the measure’s chief sponsor.

The amendment will be on the ballot Nov. 2. A simple majority is required for it to pass.