The Chicago Teachers Union seems to be going out of its way to expose each member's individual vote. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong, File)

A secret ballot is one of the most important ways to validate a fair and free vote, so it’s disgraceful that in a vote on a possible strike, Chicago teachers have to cast ballots with their names on them.

The Chicago Teachers Union seems to be going out of its way to expose each member’s individual vote. The Chicago Sun-Times’ Lauren FitzPatrick reports, “The process — conducted in some school hallways where passersby also could see — is in stark contrast to the secret ballots used in December and in 2012. That means that anyone voting can see what their colleagues already decided.”

What’s worse is that Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey claims the unprotected voting process isn’t an intimidation tactic.

“In the union tradition [a strike vote] wasn’t something that was kept secret from other members of the union, it was something we talked about as members of our group,” he said.

It’s not that I expect union thugs to threaten teachers who vote against the strike, or throw bricks through their windows. I will give them the benefit of the doubt. But everyone wants to fit in, and teachers who would otherwise vote against the strike may well feel a lot of social pressure to vote against their conscience.

Vote to strike, the underlying message from union activists is, or your colleagues will make you an outcast.

The Chicago Tribune condemned the “vote charade” in a Wednesday editorial.

“Wouldn’t it be terrific if CTU officials allowed their members the respect of a secret ballot?” the editorial read. “If the union leaders are sure their members are overwhelmingly set to follow them out the door, then why not?”

Jason Russell is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

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