Public Comment: Ann Luther on Proposed Ballot Question Language

Ann Luther with the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Maine has provided the below public comment on the proposed wording of the Ranked Choice Voting ballot question for consideration by Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.

June 12, 2016

Hon. Matthew Dunlap
Secretary of State
148 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0148

Dear Matt,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide public comment on the proposed wording of the ballot questions for this November.

I know that you take seriously the role of your office in wording these questions so that their meaning is clear, informative, and understandable to prospective voters. With that in mind, I would like to offer a suggestion for improving the wording of the question relating to “An Act To Establish Ranked-Choice Voting.” As proposed, the wording for this question does not contain a simple description of the tabulation process that may be necessary for its meaning to be clear to Maine voters.

Upon personal reflection, discussion with colleagues at the League of Women Voters of Maine, and review of comments provided by other members of the public, I would like to request that you consider inserting the italicized language below into the ballot question:

Do you want to change Maine election law to allow voters to rank their choices of candidates for U.S. Senate, Congress, Governor, State Senate and State Representative, so that ballots can be counted in rounds where last-place candidates lose and the candidate with the most votes in the final round wins?

Most of those who have written so far to offer public comment on the wording of the question also indicate that a description of the tabulation process is needed. This includes some individuals who are on record as opposing the law, although to me, some of their proposals do not accurately reflect what the bill requires.

The wording suggested here, though a little longer than the original proposal, is still roughly consistent in length with other questions that have appeared on the ballot in the past and still short enough to be considered “concise.” The addition does not appreciably alter the Flesch–Kincaid readability score.

Importantly, this language is adapted from both the citizen initiative bill and the summary of the proposed initiative that was printed at the top of petition forms and approved earlier by your office.

Thank you for your consideration. I believe this suggestion will help make the language “simple, clear, concise and direct” on the question for “An Act To Establish Ranked-Choice Voting.”

Sincerely,


Ann Luther