SAN DIEGO, CALIF. – The most contentious fight over a ballot proposition can often times be over the language of the proposition itself. Supporters and opponents won’t be completely satisfied, and it can lead to the spread of misinformation and confusion among voters.
Take the gas tax repeal in California — Proposition 6. The AP reported over the weekend that LA county residents received automated phone calls suggesting that there were errors in the proposal’s language. This promoted local elections officials to quickly send out a mass alert to voters that the language was correct.
The AP report says it was part of an advertising blitz by proponents of Proposition 6 who take issue with the title and summary of the proposition:
ELIMINATES CERTAIN ROAD REPAIR AND TRANSPORTATION FUNDING. REQUIRES CERTAIN FUEL TAXES AND VEHICLE FEES BE APPROVED BY THE ELECTORATE. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.
Repeals a 2017 transportation law’s taxes and fees designated for road repairs and public transportation. Fiscal Impact: Reduced ongoing revenues of $5.1 billion from state fuel and vehicle taxes that mainly would have paid for highway and road maintenance and repairs, as well as transit programs.
Proponents say this doesn’t get across the message fast enough; namely, that this is a gas tax repeal.
Language of ballot measures are crafted by elected officials. So, it is not uncommon for Republicans to accuse the Democratic political majority of playing politics with the ballot language.
It becomes a fight over a Republican agenda versus a Democratic agenda, instead of focusing on giving voters the most accurate information to understand the proposal and cast an informed vote.
The battle over the language comes as some statewide polls show the initiative trailing among voters. The latest PPIC poll showed support at 41 percent. An exclusive survey published on IVN in early October showed support at 38% with 15.5% of voters undecided.
California voters can vote on Proposition 6 — aka the gas tax repeal — now if they received a mail-in ballot from their county registrar or at an official polling location on November 6.