Romney vs Obama: Secret Ballots and Reasons Why

I may have a higher regard for the secret ballot than most Americans. To me, the secret ballot is the core freedom that allows Americans for vote freely.

We didn’t always have a secret ballot in this country. It’s not in the Constitution. The secret ballot first came into use in the United States as a means to protect the votes of newly-freed slaves in the Reconstruction South. It passed into law in each of the states in turn, often as a response to the practice of vote buying.

Grover Cleveland was the first President elected by secret ballot. That happened in 1892.

Rep. Mark B. Cohen of Philadelphia, a supporter of the secret ballot said, “The secret ballot guarantees that it is one’s private opinion that counts. Open ballots are not truly free for those whose preferences defy structures of power or friendship.”

That is one reason why I don’t make public statements about my private votes. The other reason is that I enjoy drawing a line and saying, “This is my private concern and I will not answer questions about it.” That may be an emotional symptom of someone who has lived too many years as a public person. I don’t know. I do know that the emotion is real.

I am not going to disclose how I intend to vote in this election. I would like, instead, to focus on the issues that will shape this vote that I am going to cast.

How do the two candidates stand on the issues that matter most to me? I think, as you read through my answers, you’ll see why I keep saying that no matter who wins this election, Christians have a real fight on their hands.

These assessments are my own thoughts. They are not definitive. They are not even necessarily right. I’m wrong about things from time to time just like everyone else. They are also not an attempt to persuade you or to determine your vote. What I hope they will do is to get you in the game of thinking for yourself.

Here, in the order in which they come into my head, are the issues I see as most important and where I think the two candidates stand on them.

HHS Mandate and Religious Freedom

President Obama signed the mandate and has stuck with it through thick, thin, and a close election. It appears he is willing to face defeat in this election, if that is what is required, to defend it. If he does this now, I can only wonder what he will do when he has no fear of re-election.

Governor Romney has promised to rescind the HHS Mandate as soon as he takes the oath of office. I believe him about this. He would be a total fool not to follow through. As for other religious freedom issues, while I don’t expect the total all-out war on faith that might come from President Obama, I expect Governor Romney would continue the process of co-opting, weakening and regulating that has brought us to this pass in the first place.

Sanctity of human life.

The sanctity of human life is under attack from so many directions, I have to address them separately to make sense of where the candidates stand.

1.   Abortion.

President Obama is the man who never met an abortion he didn’t like. I don’t see him as pro choice. I think he is pro abortion. I could elaborate, but I think his views on the subject are clear-cut.

Governor Romney is the man who believes whatever the next election requires. I don’t think he will actively work to increase abortions as President Obama has done, at least not openly. But that’s about it. His one visible act on the subject of abortion that I know of since he changed to pro life has been to persuade Congressman Ryan to change his position to allow abortions in the case of rape. It should be noted that the pro life Congressman obliged easily enough. After all, this is the vice presidency. Right?

So what we have is a choice between abortion and lots of abortions.

 2.   Embryonic stem cell research and other ways to kill, degrade life and reduce women to chattel through science.

President Obama has pushed embryonic stem cell research with the federal dollar. One of the first things he did as president was to sign a bill into law that would give enormous federal funding for it.

Governor Romney, on the other hand, has a son who has used women as surrogate mothers to supply him with children. Just writing this makes me mad. I think both these guys stink to high, high heaven on this.

1. Euthanasia.

President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act pushes people toward agreeing to end their own health care. I’ve experienced this with my mother. Every trip to the emergency room must include a hassle in which they try to get her to broaden her advanced directive to allow them to cut off her water and food if they see fit. It is disgusting. The law’s provisions for determining which treatments are “cost effective” and basing care on that are health care rationing that, I believe, will lead to untimely deaths.

Governor Romney, on the other hand, according to a LifeSiteNews article Governor Romney has supported the death by starvation and removal of fluids of Terry Shiavo. He also, during his tenure of Governor of Massachusetts, stood by while the state’s Department of Social Services petitioned to terminate life support for an 11-year-old victim of child abuse.


Which candidate is most likely to get us into an unnecessary war? Based on his calls for extravagant increases in military spending, saber rattling at Iran and all-out commitment to the multi-national corporations, I have no doubt that Governor Romney takes the prize on this one. We haven’t had a peacetime president in decades. I’d like to see one.

The Economy

Until and unless our government stops being the government of the corporation, by the corporation, and for the corporation, there is little hope for a genuine improvement in America’s economy. We need to re-industrialize our country. We also need to start putting America’s national interests ahead of the multi-national corporations.

Governor Romney is, in my opinion, 100% in the bag for the multi-national corporations. I think that is the real frame for what his presidency would be.

President Obama is somewhat in the bag for them. He actually will do something now and again that opposes their interests in favor of the interests of the American people.

There you have it. Those are the major issues so far as I’m concerned. I will vote, as I said, by secret ballot. Then, like some of our atheist/vampire friends, I may have dyspepsia.



Content Director’s Note: This post is a part of our Election Month at Patheos feature. Patheos was designed to present the world’s most compelling conversations on life’s most important questions. Please join the Facebook following for our new News and Politics Channel — and check back throughout the month for more commentary on Election 2012. Please use hashtag #PatheosElection on Twitter.

  • Mr. V.

    Again I come back to my pipedream that what we need is an option in the voting booth that reads “New Election”, and if a majority of people choose it, then both the current president/vice president and the major contender would be wiped off the slate and not allowed to run again, at least not in that election. The two major parties would then have one month to get another candidate out, and the new election would take place on the first or second Tuesday of December, making sure that it does not take place on Dec 7.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I’ve had the same thought, only I called it Neither One. If Neither One wins, we have to start over. I like your idea of limiting the time. A month is long enough. Very thoughtful about December 7.

      • Mr. V.

        Here’s a cartoon I found on the Internet that kind of sums up my feelings. It’s an old Far Side strip with a minor modification.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          That is hilarious. Is there a copyright, or can I reproduce it? I’d love to, if I can.

          • Mr. V

            Hmm…well, the strip itself would be copyrighted by Gary Larson, the creator of Far Side. However, I am pretty sure that you can put it into a post. To the best of my knowledge, you can use images or words created by someone else as long as you credit the creator, and as long as you don’t use the entire body of the creator’s work. I think one could very well write a post about Gary Larson and the Far Side, and show a couple of his Far Side strips to illustrate what his humor was like, and that would be perfectly fine and legal. Likewise, I think you could write a post about political humor, and you could mention the use of the Far Side to make a comment about the current state of political affairs and then show that image, and so long as you mention that the original piece was created by Gary Larson, you would be within legal bounds.

  • Mr. V.

    I mean, I’ll have to take a closer look at Romney and the issue of euthanasia. But then I have no idea of how I will vote. Vote one way, and support the killing of the innocent young. Vote the other way and support the killing of the elderly. What kind of choice is that?

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      dyspepsia my friend. dysssssssss peppppp siii uhhhhh

      • Mr. V.

        Somebody should do a parody video of a mock pepto bismol commercial for politically induced dyspepsia.

        • Rebecca Hamilton


  • Tom Quiner

    Thought-provoking and disturbing, especially the discussion on euthanasia.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Good to see you hear. I’ve been following your work.

  • EMS

    Re the euthanasia and Romney, the linked webiste uses satire to make a point. It sounded to me that they were satirizing Romney, not quoting him. But given Romney’s comments regarding the 47% and his actions at Bain, it wouldn’t surprise me if he did support passive if not active euthanasia. Romney and other Reps like to talk about government rationing of medical care, but conveniently ignore rationing by insurance companies.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      You. Are. So. Right. {blush} I went back and changed it, using articles from LifeSiteNews and the Miami Herald. THANK YOU for pointing this out to me.

  • Ted Seeber

    This is why I’ve voted third Party in every presidential election I’ve taken part in. Including voting for Ralph Nader instead of Bush I when I was a liberal, and Ross Perot instead of Clinton back when I realized what globalization would do to the economy of the United States.

    This is the first election where I was tempted to do a write in, but in the interests of time I voted for the Constitution Party of Oregon, which seems to be a bunch of rebels like me because they had Will Christensen on their nomination instead of Virgil Goode (much to the relief of my conscience).

    • Ted Seeber

      Oh, and while I kind of understand intellectually the reasoning behind a secret ballot, I choose to be courageous and announce how I voted for the same reason I’m perfectly willing to discuss what I earn with anybody who asks; because information should be free. I find that to be a much higher priority for me than the secrecy of the ballot.

      It might also be why I struggle to make it to confession with any regularity at all.

      • Rebecca Hamilton

        Saying who you are going to vote for is your choice Ted. The secret ballot still protects you. My preference is probably a reaction to being a small-time public figure for so many years.

        • Ted Seeber

          One quibble- I’m in Oregon, the election for us started a week ago. I voted 8 days ago. We also no longer have polling places as such- just ballot drop off locations if you want to save the cost of a stamp.

          • Rebecca Hamilton

            That’s interesting Ted. It’s very different here. We begin voting Friday, but we have to go to the election board to do it. I’ve got an absentee ordered (because of my foot) but haven’t gotten it yet. There will be long lines all weekend and next Tuesday here.

            • Ted Seeber

              I’m still not sure if it was a good idea for Oregon; I am very concerned about people who visit the elderly and claim to be collecting ballots. It’s also why I was so concerned about PP calling my 9 year old son- it’s just conceivable to me that an apolitical parent who wouldn’t otherwise turn in a ballot could throw their ballot into the trash, have it retrieved by an underage kid, who then uses it to vote the way the telephone told him to.

  • vickie

    In the past my mistake was thinking that voting summed up my duty as a citizen. People of faith cannot afford to do this anymore. What strikes me is how Obama can get away with being totally proabortion but we have to guess about many Republicans. Real prolifers are labelled as extremists. We will just have to not give in. Pray for us Rebecca and other readers that we can do so always with love.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      This is so true Vickie. We need to all pray for one another. I know I need your prayers and I certainly do pray for all of you.
      “In the past my mistake was thinking that voting summed up my duty as a citizen. People of faith cannot afford to do this anymore.”

  • http://none Mary Faith West

    I think the author of this article needs to do a lot more research; she is sincere, no doubt, but her
    ideas for the most part are without merit. She has panned Mitt Romney like she knows something
    truthful about him and his life….reruns of the opposition ads for the most part. Is she aware, as a Catholic, that the VATICAN, as well as the American Bishops as a whole, have guidance for us?… On these issues, i.e. no Catholic should vote for someone who champions abortion, same sex marriage, and other issues related to faith and morals, and who interfere with Catholic Institutions to remain true to Catholic beliefs, thus taking away our God given right to freedom of religion. Any person who sought to know what they think would give a positive account in an article for the Catholic views that Romney supports.– Then maybe this woman is not Catholic, so what do I know about her? Nothing. Please let me add that the above Catholic advisers do not tell us whom to vote for, but let us know for what the Candidates stand. A Catholic should vote for the person who stands on issues that most reflect our religion.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you for your comment Mary Faith. I am just giving my opinions. I don’t see anything wrong with talking about the views of both candidates and letting people decide for themselves. So far as I know, the Vatican has never opposed this approach to things. If you would like to give some of your reasons for supporting Governor Romney, that might help people think this through. If you do that, please keep it short. I’d rather you made several comments than one huge one with a dozen points. Blessings.

  • vickie

    Rebecca, I am not sure how important this is. I did a google search: I could never find a quote that Romney would repeal the HHS mandate on day one. Ryan did say it -can a vice presidential candidate make promises for his running mate.. Romney did day that he would repeal Obamacare- would that include the mandate as well? As a legislature I assume you had to assess language like this in legislation.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I’ll put the links in. You’re right that Ryan was the one who used the phrase “day 1″ which is why I said “as soon as” rather than Day 1. Having said that, I felt that Ryan was speaking for Romney when he did it. He hasn’t crossed Romney in this campaign that I know about. Romney himself has made unequivocal statements, (along with a number of statements that sounded like mushy political dodges at other times.) I will also link to that. Repealing the law on which the regulations were based would probably undo the Mandate. However, it is not necessary to repeal the law to rescind the mandate. All the president has to do is issue an executive order. It literally can be done on Day 1.

      • vickie

        I appreciate the links – that clarifies things!

  • Sus

    I don’t believe Romney is going to repeal the HHS. It truly is very similar to what Romney did in Massachusetts. Something has to be done about health care in this country for people that aren’t insured and aren’t on government assistance. Starting over on an issue that hasn’t had any kind of success for over 30 years would be a very dumb move o n his part.

    HHS – right or wrong, at least it is progress on an important issue that hasn’t been addressed in many years no matter which political party is in power.

    Aside from the contraceptive issue, would you support the HHS? Abortion isn’t covered under HHS.

    • Ted Seeber

      The HHS Mandate cannot be supported not because of pro-life issues, but because it is an extra-legislative attempt to redefine the word “religion” to being only something done in private and NEVER something done to serve the greater good.

      This redefinition of what is a religious enterprise, excluding any business open to those who aren’t of the same religion, is the problem. Contraception is just a side issue.

    • vickie

      If they are forcing people to violate there conscience through the contraceptive mandate, this is just a first step. The liberty of follow our conscience is a primary right. A law infringing on this is not legitimate.

      The other solution that I have heard about is less mandates -one reason that insurance is so expensive. No body should be denied care for serious problems, but people could be given more responsibility for routine health matters. The other issue is that health insurance is tied to employment. It would be better if people could get it themselves as in car insurance. Some people opt for high deductible other people low deductible.

      • Rebecca Hamilton

        Good points Vickie.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Sus, I agree that he will have to cross his previous history to rescind the HHS Mandate, but he seems to do that rather easily.

      The only way he can get away with NOT repealing it would be if the Catholic Bishops turn toady in the face of power and don’t stand up for what they believe the way so many other religious leaders have done. If they stand strong, I think he would end up losing his own political party over it.

      I’ve said this a lot of times. My objection to the HHS Mandate is that it puts the government in the position of forcing the largest denomination (and its agencies) in this country to violate its own teachings or face penalties. Birth control and abortion have nothing to do with it. This is a clear violation of religious freedom. As an atheist, you should also worry about that. The same First Amendment that protects Catholics also protects you.

  • Sus

    I don’t know that I’m an atheist. I’m trying to find my way.

    What other way does the HHS Mandate force Catholic Agencies to violate their own teachings besides birth control? Abortion isn’t covered under it so that isn’t an issue.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      That’s interesting Sus. I stand corrected.

      As for the HHS Mandate, it is a vast re-ordering of the relationship of church and state in favor of the power of the state over the church. The time-honored relationship that it disrupts has served this nation well. The question, as I keep saying, is not birth control; it is the First Amendment.

      As for the question you keep raising about birth control vs abortion. Some of the forms of chemical contraceptive that the mandate requires that churches pay for, such as the morning after pill, as known abortifacients.

      The question, however, not whether or not you agree with the Church about this issue. It’s whether or not you support the Church’s right to follow its own teachings without government penalty. Do not think that this mandate is about birth control or that a government which seizes this kind of power will stop with the Catholic Church. If this isn’t backed up, at some point, it will land on your front door, as well. Only then it will be too late to stop it.

      • Sus

        I’ll have to research the Catholic Church and HHS. My first instinct is to say that the Catholic Church shouldn’t decide for the rest of the country. I don’t think religion should have anything to do with government as it would be impossible to include all religions that are practiced in the U.S.

        I do think this country has a huge health care problem. I spent my whole life in a bubble regarding health care. Always healthy and always insured either through my parents, my job or my husband’s job. At age 39 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The treatment cost $350,000. It cost my family around $3000 for prescriptions, co-pays, gas, parking and tolls. I never had to make any medical decisions around the cost.

        I watched what happened when women reached their insurance cap – no more treatment for them unless they paid cash. I watched what happened when women were completely uninsured. They did not receive the same care as I did.

        I believe health care is a right.

        I will research and think about the Catholic Church and HHS.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          I think it’s not only possible, but necessary to provide quality health care for all who need it without infringing on religious liberty. As I’ve said, this is not about birth control. There is no effort to stop people from getting birth control. It’s about forcing the Church to violate it’s teachings or be punished by the government. The problem with that is this is something the government should not be doing. If it wants to make free birth control available, there are so many other ways to do this, I can’t count or even imagine them all.

          • vickie

            Really. why not just give a supply to primary care physicians, public health clinics and ob/gyn to dispense.

    • Ted Seeber

      Abortion IS covered under the HHS mandate, in the form of the morning after pill (chemical abortion).

      Having said that, I don’t find the HHS mandate to be any more objectionable than any other mandate save for one reason: It contains, in who it allows exceptions for, a novel definition of who is a religious employer. Basically, the only religious employer that can pass has to meet these criteria:
      1. Be primarily engaged in prayer and worship as major activities
      2. Hire only people of the same religion.
      3. Serve only people of the same religion.

      Your average Catholic Social Justice organization like St. Vincent De Paul violates 3, and thus is not a religious organization. Your local Catholic hospital, which for 65% of jurisdictions in the United States is the ONLY hospital, isn’t a religious organization. The Knights of Columbus, because they work with Special Olympics and other charitable organizations, isn’t a religious organization under the HHS Mandate. Any 501(c)* organization which provides labor, volunteers, or funding to any group or individual outside of their religion, isn’t a religious organization under this mandate.

      Still worse- thanks to criteria #2, private businesses, even if ALL of their profit is given away, are not religious organizations under this mandate, thus violating the freedom of association clause of the constitution.

      A better solution for the situation you describe would be LOCALIZED universal health care, paid for by property taxes.

      • Sus

        Where I live, property taxes aren’t covering what they are supposed to already. Add health care to it and our town would be empty because no one would be able to pay their property taxes.

  • BDW

    The bishops are endorsing a candidate. They are telling Catholics that they can’t vote for the candidate that fits Obama’s description. Ask Mary Faith West who she is required to vote for.

    They also want to deny communion to congressmen who vote their conscience instead of how the church wants them to vote.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Actually, all the bishops are doing is stating the plain facts of Catholic teaching. If those teachings appear to predicate toward one candidate or the other, that is not the bishops’ fault. It is also not an endorsement.

      If a political office holder denies Catholic teaching and places themselves in a state of mortal sin, they are supposed to deny communion to themselves. They need to repent of their sin and go to confession with the intention to try their best not to do it again. The reasons the various bishops feel called to speak out about politicians who support abortion and then take communion is because the politicians are not only defying Church teaching by their behavior, they are actually claiming a sin is not a sin. That can have far wider ramifications because it encourages other people to commit grave sin and believe it is not a sin.

      Teaching about this is well within the bishop’s job description.

    • Ted Seeber

      Given Bain Capital’s investment in Stericycle and Romney’s *direct* profiting from it, they’re also telling Catholic voters that they can’t vote for Romney.

  • BDW

    “Some of the forms of chemical contraceptive that the mandate requires that churches pay for, such as the morning after pill, as known abortifacients.”

    You are worried about the status of a woman’s body the day after a sex act? How much harm is there in preventing pregnancy at that point?

    So that is what you call an abortion? Or is it still birth control which is evil as well?

    You people are ridiculous. This country has more important issues to deal with.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Instead of getting into a circular debate, I’m going to suggest you read one of my old posts, She Could Have Been Me. If you want to discuss this further — nicely — feel free to come back.

      • Sus

        Wow, that video is really creepy. It’s hard for my brain to comprehend wanting to abort because of gender.
        My question is what should we do about this? Will outlawing abortion solve it? I don’t think so because if someone feels that strongly about it, they will try and self-abort at home.

    • Ted Seeber

      “You are worried about the status of a woman’s body the day after a sex act? How much harm is there in preventing pregnancy at that point?”

      The same harm that there is in preventing pregnancy period- a bigoted act of blatant ageism.

  • Pingback: Romney vs Obama: Secret Ballots and Reasons Why |

  • BDW

    That video is very revealing. That’s a lot different from a morning after pill.

    Like anything else, if you grant people certain freedoms, there will be abuses. There will always be people who ruin it for everybody.

    Sometimes you just have to take the good with the bad.

  • Reluctant Liberal

    No, Obama’s totally in the tank for corporations. He’s just slavishly devoted to different ones. Whereas Romney’s in the tank for investment firms, coal, and the big banks, Obama is in the tank for Google, natural gas, and the big banks. It’s not that Obama is less in the tank, it’s that he’s in the tank for corporations that appear to be slightly less evil than the competition.

    • Ted Seeber

      This must be some strange relative use of the word “evil” of which I have not previously been aware. Can you explain?

  • Patty

    I once read that the Presidential candidate did not have a vise Presidential candidate, instead whoever lost the election became the vice president so that both side would be represented. I wonder how that would work today, both sides have good and bad policies. But the mudslinging going on I don’t think that would work. I appreciate your opinion on the candidates – some I knew, some I did not. It won’t persuade me to change my vote, but it will prepare me for the next 4 yrs and what may come no matter who wins. Either way – I like the slogan I recently read, ” No matter who the President is my King is Jesus Christ”

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Patty, this is exactly what I was trying to do.
      “It won’t persuade me to change my vote, but it will prepare me for the next 4 yrs and what may come no matter who wins.”

    • Ted Seeber

      We may yet find out. It is a sure bet that the House will end up Republican and the Senate Democratic. If both candidates reach only 269 electoral votes, then the House will pick the President and the Senate the Vice President, giving us a Romney/Biden Administration.

      32 out of 364 possible scenarios on are this possiblity. However,, which tracks the latest poll data in their map, currently has the President winning 303 ECVs to 206 ECVs.

      On none of these maps is Oregon any color other than blue, so I made the right choice in my personal vote for my conscience.

  • BDW

    “The same harm that there is in preventing pregnancy period- a bigoted act of blatant ageism.”

    If I understand this statement correctly, you are now condemning any action to prevent the pregnancy? What does this have to do with ageism. Is it because I am discriminating against a day old fertilized egg?

    I don’t get you, Ted.

    • Ted Seeber

      Yes it is because you are discriminating against a day old fertilized egg, also known to those of us who understand genetics as a human being. I should have thought that would be obvious.