Not naming poll workers has created mistrust 8/4/2015

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Not naming poll workers has created mistrust

The decision by the Panola County Democratic Executive Committee not to publish in the newspaper the names of today’s party primary election workers has spawned consequences. Hopefully some are unintended.

To clarify, publication of the names of a party’s election workers is not required by law. It is a decision the local party has the right to make.

Further, the newspaper has never charged for publishing the names. We have always published them as a service to the party and its workers and to inform our readers.

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But the Panola County Democratic Executive Committee has stated no reason for this policy change in the final week before today’s Democratic Primary Election. It appears to have been the decision of the party chairperson who is said to have a copy of the list but who has not shared it with anyone we have spoken with. Not with us, nor with the executive committee’s vice-chairman nor with several of the Democratic candidates with whom we made inquiries.

When the names of people appointed to important positions of public trust are kept secret, it creates public mistrust, as though something is being hidden.

Democracies work best when business is conducted out in the open to allow public scrutiny. That’s true for governments — town boards, school boards, supervisors’ boards and the like that are required to conduct their meetings in compliance with open meetings laws and to make their records public. When any of those bodies of government appear to try to circumvent those open meetings and public records law, the public becomes mistrustful and suspicious of motives.

The same is true of a political party, even though they are not subject to open meetings and public records laws. When business is conducted in secret, it creates mistrust.

How ironic it is that the very political party whose members have fought so hard to make sure that the doors of government are open to every citizen now appears to have slammed those doors shut and shrouded its activities in secrecy.