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JLeslie's avatar

Do you think it should be made illegal to word a question on a voters ballot in the negative?

Asked by JLeslie (46156 points ) November 4th, 2009

This recent vote on gay marriage in Maine brought this idea up again for me. Basically voting “no” was voting “yes” on the subject. If you don’t read the question carefully you vote the opposite of how you meant to vote.

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10 Answers

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

yeah, I hate that. Seems like they are trying to trick you into voting the thing you are against. I have dealt with that in the past, and the voting judges often hear me say out loud, in the voting booth, “Just what the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

Someone needs to put a stop to this practice, if only to save the little old ladies sitting at that long table verifying everyone from listening to my curses.

robmandu's avatar

FYI: The question on the ballot in Maine is reported to have been:

—Question 1: Do you want to overturn the state law allowing same-sex marriages?

Judi's avatar

@Psychedelic_Zebra ; FYI, I have been one of those “little old ladies,” and the truth is, we have no idea either. We work one day every 2–4 years and we are all far from election experts!!

galileogirl's avatar

Making laws to cover every contingency that comes to the human mind is never going to be the answer. We have to be proactive and educate ourselves about what the things we are voting on mean. Skimming the ballot once you are in the booth is not enough.

An example in San Francisco was a proposition that would provide money for maintenance of Market Street. Anybody who has been here knows that several blocks of Market Street has a homeless problem and that’s what all the advertising was about. In reality it was about getting money by installing giant electronic billboards with all that visual clutter. Luckily we are more politically savvy than most.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@JLeslie We have had many less controversial issues on our ballots in past elections that have been so confusing, I have literally had to take a “cheat sheet” with me while I vote. Many of them have had to do with school referendums, state budgeting issues-etc. The questions are often written negatively and are terribly wordy. They could be written concisely and less confusing, quite easily.
[edit]
No, I do not think it should be “illegal”, but I do think we should hold our politicians writing up these questions to higher standards. If this is happening in your state on your ballot, call or email your Reps and give ‘em an ear full.

dalepetrie's avatar

Maybe if people could just stop trying to write discrimination into the legal code, we wouldn’t have these problems.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@dalepetrie This happens with other monetary issues as well, not just discriminatory ones. People take notice when these questions repeal laws…they rarely get out raged when it “steals” more tax dollars.

We’ve had a few in my county related to school remodeling that have been confusing and outraging. (One involved a school remodel that put a fountain, expensive art work and plasma TV’s in a school atrium and cafeteria. Until it passed no one seemed to have a clue what the referendum was about.)

dalepetrie's avatar

@SpatzieLover – point well taken, I’ll revise that to,

“Maybe if people could just stop trying to write discrimination into the legal code, we wouldn’t have so many of these problems.”

JLeslie's avatar

I’m upset about it in every instance, no matter the issue. I have a college degree and I sometimes have to read it a couple off times to be sure I understand. Generally, I read it before I get into the voting booth. @robmandu you have to wonder how many people just saw allowing same sex marrige and voted “yes.” But, that question is not near as confusing as others I have seen. I wasn’t selecting this one in particular, it just reminded me of how it pisses me off when this kind of thing happens, and there is no way you can tell me it is not on purpose. The wording is on purpose with the hope of confusing people.

I wrote on fluther recently that my girlfriends daughter got every question wrong her recent math test that was written in the negative or not written as expected. List there numbers in order from highest to lowest, which number is not divisible by 3, that sort of thing. She understood all of the concepts but did not read the question word for word. A few years ago when I took a class a bunch of people (adults) in the class missed the questions that were worded in an unexpected manner.

The question should be currently state law allows same sex marriage In the state of Maine. If you would like to keep same sex marriage legal vote YES. If you would like to make it illegal vote NO. They should tell you what yes and no mean. Maybe that should be the rule, explaining exactly what the yes or no will mean.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@JLeslie I completely agree with all of what you have stated above. It is simple to write questions so that all constituents can clearly understand what they are agreeing to or disagreeing with.

Usually, our local paper has a sample ballot along with the referendum questions. The paper then deciphers the questions and writes out the question in a more concise form giving examples of what your yes or no will mean in the vote.

It’s sad when you have to study ahead or bring in a cheat sheet to remind you when you are indeed an inteligent person, and you keep up with current events.

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