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Votin 9 Po.tho One of the keystone principles on which the structure of our freedom is balanced is being violated in hundreds of Texas communities on every election day and has been for years. This basic principle is the secret ballotthe voter’s right to mark his ballot as he sees fit, without fear of retribution of any kind and in any form, no matter how subtle. It is a principle so basic to the success of our form of government that apparently, we in Texas have taken it too much for granted. But in our recent travels about the state we suddenly became aware that there are, instead of the reverse, relatively few Texas communities where a voter can mark his ballot in complete privacy. The Texas Election Code, in Articles 701-704, states with undeniable clarity that booths shall be provided for voters in all towns and cities of 10,000 or more population and that, in those communities where polling booths are not mandatory, guard rails shall be provided so that no one can get within 10 feet of a person marking his ballot. The code goes on to list specifications for the construction of these mandatory voting booths. A booth must be provided for every 70 qualified voters in each precinct, the law declares. Specifications for the construction of the boxes where the ballots are kept are spelled out also tin buckets and other flimsy containers are used in direct violation of the election laws. Ask election officials in most counties why voting booths are not provided and the answer is either, “they are too expensive,” or “they are too much trouble.” Most, of course, do not believe anyone in their county would bother to peek and find out how his neighbor votes. And if some do peek now and then, they say, what is the harm? Here is what a voter in a Fort Worth suburb told us recently: “My wife and I usually sit side-by-side at a table when we vote. Sometimes we discuss candidates one or both isn’t familiar with in the minor races. I thought very little of doing this until one election day not long ago a woman sitting near us watched me carefully as I marked my ballot. There was a local bond issue on the ballot and when I marked my vote against it, she scowled at me like she could kill me. It struck me then that if I had been in certain kinds of business in that area she could have done me a lot of damage by telling folks how I voted on that bond issue.” This illustrates one way a voter can be hurt by the lack of provisions for voting in complete privacy. And, of course, the dangers of this widespread togetherness on Texas election days range all the way up to political dictatorships in communities, counties and statewide. But the dangers are so obvious we make such issue of monitored elections in the Soviet Union and other totalitarian countriesthat the most astounding aspect of our “sudden discovery” is that so many Texans, throughout the state, have meekly allowed themselves to be cheated out of the secret ballot for so long. One state-level politician told us that to his knowledge a majority of the counties which use paper ballots have not complied with the law requiring either voting booths or guard rails. It is generally known that voters in such fuedal domains as Duval and Starr counties must mark their ballots while deputies or political hacks loom over them. And most Texans, when they speak of this shake their heads and cluck at the shame of it, but on election day they go to their precinct polling place and mark their own ballots at a table shared by several of their neighbors. It is time for some state official, or candidate, or political organization to demand that this flagrant violation of one of our most precious civil rights is stopped, not only in those counties where the violation is deliberate but in those where it is the result of apathy. YD President Ousted On Party Loyalty g o of Bexar County’s Young Dem ocrats have impeached their president and vice president. The president was Clarence Thompson, the first Negro to hold the top YD office in Bexar. Reason given for his impeachment was that he had failed to call monthly meetings in April and May. Vice President Stanley Bernstein was ousted, according to the ousters, for “inactivity.” Thompson was not present to contest the impeachment and will be given a chance to contest the move at the group’s Sept. 1 meeting. Political Intelligence golf The next head-on debates among the political candidates will occur at the PASO \(Political Assn. of Spanish-SpeakAugust. All eight statewide candidates in contested elections have been invited. Hank Brown, state AFL CIO president made the tentativeness of labor’s Connally endorsement explicit in a statement to Dallas News reporter Mike Quinn: “We better not get another labor-baiting platform out of the El Paso Democratic convention.” g o Or The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People this week criticized the Texas AFL-CIO for not adopting a resolution at the recent San An tonio convention to set up a board to study racial discrimination. Clarence A. Laws of Dallas, re gional NAACP secretary, said it was “most lamentable” that such a resolution was not adopted. He said Texas Negroes are losing a million and a half dollars a year in potential income because of job dias. Laws, in his letter of complaint to state AFL-CIO president Hank Brown said he hoped “continuing efforts will be made through you and other labor leaders to guarantee workers, regardless of race, creed or colo, the economic freedom which our constitution promises to all.” g o of As the Harte-Hanks enter prises took over the San Antonio Express and Evening News, the new proprietors pledged in a front-page editorial to “report the news” and to “be good citizens.” Conway Craig, publisher of the moderately liberal Corpus Christi Caller Times for 23 years, moved over to publisher of the Express and News. por Roy Evans, secretary-treas urer, Texas AFL-CIO, asks in an article in the labor newsletter, on the. basis of his reading of election returns by areas: “. . . the Liberal vs. Conservative issue is secondary in comparison with other statewide factors. The value of a two-party state; governmental control by economic, social, and political pressure; willingness of candidates to face their opponents and take open stands . . .these are the issues pre-eminent in Texas.” vg Passage of an 81-mile Padre Island National Seashore Area bill is reportedly more likely now. Rep. John Young and Sen. Ralph Yarborough both express optimism. The 81-mile compromise excludes from the park area a 12-mile strip on the side of the island away from the Gulf. frog The Geneal Telephone Com pany of the Southwest and the Communications Workers of America reached a new contract agreement over the weekend granting wage increases ranging from two to nine cents an hour. The pact covers 2,700 workers in a five-state area which includes Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas and Louisiana. poir Baylor Chancellor Dr. W. R. White, a leader in the campaign against legalized betting on horse racing, declared from the pulpit of the Dallas First Baptist Church that he did not believe the claim made recently by Frederick Waggoner of the Texas Thoroughbred Horse Breeders’ Association that 103 state legislators had pledged to support a bill to legalize gambling on a county option basis. vor Mike Quinn of the Dallas News wrote in his analysis of activities at the labor union convention in San Antonio that: “Texas labor after a week-long session . . . appears not only to be a solidly welded organization but a political force that will have to be reckoned with more in the months ahead.” g o or A group from the Dallas Citizens’ Council, accompanied by Vice-President Lyndon Johnson, asked President Kennedy to hurry along construction of the new federal center in Dallaa A spokesman for the group said Kennedy told them the Dallas project is in a category with many others and that if there was special treatment for it, there might be a chain reaction. AUSTIN THERE IS TELLING THRUST in the charge that Texas liberals are “liberal Dixiecrats.” Many of the liberals were among the loyalists who berated those who said they were Democrats for Eisenhower or for Nixon. Now many of the Democrats have been Democrats for Tower and many consider becoming Democrats for Cox. The situation calls for reflection. There are folks who have made lifelong commitments to their political parties, just as commitments are made to churches and to lodges. These people cannot stand political traitors among them, just as Baptists would not take well to one of their number defending the infallibility of the Pope on faith and morals. The position of party loyalists is consistent because it is based on a system of reasoning closed by its premises: We are loyal Democrats, we never vote for anybody but Democrats, therefore any of us who votes for a Republican is a traitor to the group he is pledged to uphold. Ronnie Dugger The Tower contest made it apparent that there is, however, an out, even for loyalists. They can stay home. And we sensed, if we did not definitely learn, from the Tower election that many practicing Democrats are actually, intellectually, independents. Given a choice between party fidelity and a course of action they think will have better results for society, they choose the better course, and party go hang. What is evolving in Texas is not a two-p4ty system, but a three-force system. Independents are the third force. As long as the Democratic primaries were, in effect, the actual elections in Texas, \(and to a ciously independent sorts were given two choices: come into the Democratic primary and then vote as you like in November; or else abstain from signficant citizenship on state and local politics. As evolved, the conservative independents first became conspicuously visible. They defected from the Democrats in large numbers every presidential November. The loyal Democrats responded with outrage; particularly against the Democratic officials, especially Shivers, who led the conservative independents into the Republican camp. With the Tower case, a cocophony of protest rose from the pro-Blakley people, but they were hardly in a position to protest, with their man pro-Eisenhower. In the current election, however, the charge of hypocrisy has begun to chap the liberals. That is because there is something to it. THIS NEWSPAPER began pointing out some years back that the primary ballot’s party loyalty oath, obviously intended by the Democratic legislature to bind participants in a primary to vote for all the nominees of the party, is not morally binding on Published by Texas Observer Co., Ltd. Entered as second-class matter, April 26, 1937, at the Post Office at Austin, Texas, under the Act of March 3, 1879. July 27, 1962 Willie Morris Editor and General Manager Jay Milner, Associate Editor Sarah Payne, Office Manager Ronnie Dugger, Contributing Editor plain citizens. If it was, they would be denied the right to vote against a man they think utterly pernicious in a Democratic primary, and then vote against him again in November; but more to the point, the conscience cannot be bound by statute as to future circumstances which obviously cannot be known until they develop. Party loyalty’s justified purview is limited to elected officials of a party. Yet the Observer has not maintained that even party officials are bound in principle to support all of their primary’s nominees. Party loyalty binds the party official, In the sense of a contract with his flock, to this approximate extent: if he cannot refrain from opposing some one or more of his party’s nominees, then he should resign; if he cannot support his party’s principal nominees, then he should resign. Certainly it is reasonable for a group to insist that its leaders uphold its concensus or give up the leadership. Yet no free man can be required to bind his conscience under all future circumstances, no matter what they are. Without reference to the present gubernatorial election, it would seem wise to consider a revision of the party loyalty statutes of the state election code. This revision should strike the offensive loyalty oaths on the primary ballots; or, these should be modified in language to exact of the voter no more than a profession of a present disposition to support the party in whose primary he is participating over any other party. At the same time, elected party officials, from precinct chairmen on up, should be required to resign their offices before they campaign for the national or state level nominees of an opposing party, as the honorable Wright Morrow once notably did. It will be urged that people should be free to bind their consciences to a given party’s procedures if they want to. By all means, this is so. But such a binding cannot justly be made prerequisite to participation in a party’s affairsparticipation on which a citizen may decide for his own good reasons. A political party in a free society is an open meeting, there are conducted essential affairs of democratic life. Men and women should be free to walk in the doors, and free to walk out, as their consciences instruct. Nov we in Texas have learned this from both sides: coming and going. The independand the law should not even appear to require them to become party loyalists in order to participate significantly in political affairs. NOTE TO SUBSCRIBERS: This week’s Observer is