Clean Elections ballot measure’s description may be flawed, mislead


Rep. Ken Clark explains why he believes a description for voters of a ballot measures on changes to the Citizens Clean Elections Commission is biased. /Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services

 

Prop. 306 actually would take power from commission

Members of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission voted Friday to sue the Legislative Council for what commissioners claim is an effort to mislead voters about an upcoming ballot measure.

Tom Collins, the commission’s executive director, said the council — made up of 10 Republicans and four Democrats — failed to include relevant information when it approved a description of changes the Republican-controlled Legislature wants voters to approve in how the commission operates. And some of what the council did put in the description, he said, is flat wrong.

Collins said that means voters, who have to ratify the changes approved by lawmakers, are being given an inaccurate picture of what the measure would do.

The lawsuit authorized unanimously by the bipartisan commission most immediately will seek to block the Secretary of State’s Office from using the description, adopted less than 24 hours earlier on a party-line vote by the Legislative Council, in the ballot pamphlet mailed out ahead of the November election to all households with voters.

It would then be up to a court to determine if lawmakers complied with state law which requires an “impartial analysis’’ of all ballot measures. If the judge agrees, he or she then could order council members to reconvene and re-craft the language.

At the heart of the fight is the decision by voters in 1998 to set up a voluntary system of public financing of statewide and legislative elections. Under the Citizens Clean Elections Act, candidates who agree not to take private dollars are provided with funds generated from things like a surcharge on criminal, civil and traffic fines.

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