Ballot language aims to confuse voters at the polls

The wording on ballots often leaves voters more baffled than when they started.

TAMPA - Audio recordings were leaked in October appearing to prove Florida’s proposed Amendment 1, also known as the Florida Solar Amendment, was interntionally written in deceptive language in an effort to confuse voters at the polls.

“It happens all the time, it’s nothing new,” said USF Political Science professor Dr. Susan MacManus. “Many people think that the language is intentionally designed to make you vote yes when you really wanted to vote no.

"That’s where the confusion factor comes in and people are really, really angry when they see that happening.”

“Overwhelmingly Floridians want somebody to put these proposed amendments in language that the common person can understand,” added MacManus. “Years ago we did a survey asking Floridians if they would like such a publication and, overwhelmingly, they said yes. But of course it costs money.”

"It's very misleading and voters really need to do their homework on Amendment 1 because it's very deceptive and it does the opposite of what the ballot language says it does,” said Rep. Kathy Castor, who represents Florida’s 14th District in Congress.

“On the front lines, just like candidates, voters have to do their research, but in advance we have a Florida Supreme Court review and one Justice said Amendment 1 is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Unfortunately, it got on the ballot but we’ve got to tighten up that review process.

"If it’s misleading it doesn’t belong on the ballot.”

“Florida is unique in that the Florida Supreme Court is the only Supreme Court in the country that has a formal role in the constitutional amendment process,” added MacManus. “The Florida Supreme Court has to sign off on two things: is the language understandable to the average person, clear language; and secondly, does it only deal with one issue?”

On Amendment 1 the court signed off on the ballot language effectively not once, but twice, when it was approved after further review on March 31.

“The best way to fix it is to change state law, to a certain degree, about what has to be the language in a ballot summary and title,” said MacManus. “This is how things get changed.

"People see things aren’t quite right, and they rise up in arms and it gets publicity and, of course, public opinion does matter to public officials.”

(© 2016 WTSP)


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment