There is a fierce debate in South Africa as to whether a secret ballot should be allowed in a vote of no confidence against the president. Secret ballots may be an issue, too, in the Church. In my ministr(ies), it has been like this: we have always held a secret ballot when electing (or not) an office-bearer, and that is a time-honoured tradition all over, not just in the Church. Any other votes have ordinarily been in the open -- however one can have a secret ballot if everyone comes to an agreement. Mostly, though, I think that members feel that this is ... as if they were not mature enough to take an open vote, not to speak of the rigmarole of a secret ballot. OBSERVATION: In the Congregational Church, a vote is seen as the will of God, and therefore the outcome is literally sacred, and one does not pry into it. If there is a culture in the Church which understands that, open votes are good. If there is a spirit of control, even in one small part of the Church, it could mean more trouble than one wants to know. People may not be intimidated before the vote, but the pressure may be applied once the vote is known, or sentiments are known. Sad to say, people are intelligent jackals if their heart is not in the right place.