Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What Is It With Ballot Proposition Language?

Every time I vote and there are Propositions or Amendments or other extras besides voting for actual people, I notice that these are so wordy and convoluted and confusing that I have to read them several times before I can figure out exactly what they mean and what a Yes or No vote will actually accomplish.

As a college-educated person, I get very frustrated with this and often think of how difficult it must be for the majority of US voters to figure out just what the hell they're voting on.

Most often, I get the handy voter guide from the local newspaper and go through it with a fine-toothed comb well-before the election, write comments on it, and take it with me into the voting booth. This saves me lots of time. I recommend this method.

But wouldn't it be nice if they said things like this:
Library Funding Mill-Levy: This measure will add 1/10 of 1 cent to each dollar collected by the state as sales tax to be specifically used to purchase books for libraries in the state.
Senior Center Purchase Authorization: This measure will not add any new taxes, but will continue to use an existing tax of 2/10 of 1 cent collected by the county as sales tax to purchase the following for senior centers throughout the county if the senior centers do not already have them: One handicapped accessible van; New furniture for lounge areas; One DVD player per senior center and a copy of Cocoon for each.

Often, I have thought that the unnecessary complication and obfuscation in real life is deliberate. Today, I got proof of that.

In California, as many know, there will be a proposition on the ballot in November regarding same-sex marriages. The current wording on the ballot is as follows:

Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry

Then one would vote YES if one wants to eliminate the right or NO if one wants the right to remain.

This is nicely clear and says exactly what it should. Wow! I love it!

But guess what? Supporters of the elimination of the right of same-sex couplies to marry are suing the State of California over the wording!

One spokesperson claims that the language is inflammatory and could prejudice voters against the proposition! Because it shouldn't be called what it ACTUALLY IS, my goodness, the IDEA!

Here are some ideas for what it should be called instead:

1) Eliminates Fear Of Catching Teh Gey. Because if same-sex couples are allowed to marry, it turns all of us married couples into gays and lesbians! And our children, too!

2) Saves Heterosexual Marriage From Destruction. Because if same-sex couples are allowed to marry, all heterosexual marriages instantly become meaningless! Because I can testify that as soon as those dirty gays started getting married in Massachusetts a while back, I immediately stopped having feelings for my husband and just didn't give a shit about our marriage anymore!

3) Codifies God's Statement That Gays (Not Lesbians, But That's Beside The Point) Are Abominations And Should Stay In The Closet Where They Belong. Because if we let them marry each other, what will be next? Wearing two kinds of fabric? Men looking at or speaking to their wives when they are menstruating? Eating shellfish? Not killing our children when they are disrepectful? What kind of end will that bring us to? Why, The End Of The World, of course!

4) Reserves Marriage Benefits For Couples Who Can Reproduce With Each Other. Because you know people only marry in order to have children! Like my father-in-law, who is getting married in two weeks to another 60-something-year-old woman! I'm sure they'll be popping out babies as soon as they can! And my mom and step-father, who already have 4 kids between them - I'm sure they are trying long and hard to have more! Or even me! I am still (barely) of childbearing age! Why am I not popping them out? Maybe my infertility means that I shouldn't even BE married!

Maybe they should add an addendum to the proposition: Any same-sex couple attempting to marry shall be sent to the nearest Pray-Away-The-Gay center for deprogramming.

At any rate, it's a sad statement about the way politics and public relations get in the way of informed voting. And it pisses me off.

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