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Senate Majority Leader Sen. Jabo Waggoner, (R-Vestavia Hills) commended his Senate colleagues for passage of Senate Bill 68, by Sen. Trip Pittman (R – Daphne) the Informed Voter Act & Fair Ballot Commission.
The legislation intends to remove voter confusion and uncertainty over the ballot language of future proposed statewide constitutional amendments and to provide clear, objective information about proposed amendments. Senate Bill 68 passed 29-0.
"Since this past November, we have heard from countless voters who took great interest in the 11 statewide constitutional amendments but found the ballot language complex and had questions of the amendments objectives. This legislation is designed to address such uncertainty from occurring in the future," Sen. Waggoner said. "Sen. Pittman has worked very closely with a number of grassroots groups and his Baldwin County House colleague, Rep. Steve McMillan so that every voter will have access to complete information on every amendment."
Pittman's legislation creates the fifteen-member Fair Ballot Commission comprised of five elected officials, including the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, and the Secretary of State; five citizens appointed by the elected officials; and five attorneys licensed in Alabama. Neither the citizens nor the attorneys may be elected officeholders.
"Voters should not have to wade through highly technical legal jargon or cumbersome ballot language in order to determine their vote on proposed constitutional amendments," Senator Pittman said. "Explanations for constitutional amendments should be clear, simple and objective. I'm certain the composition of this committee will ensure that citizens are provided information that is as honest, accurate and accountable as possible."
At least 60 days prior to a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment, the commission will place on the Legislature's website a plain language summary of the statewide ballot measure, which shall include the legal or constitutional authority for its passage, the effect of the statewide ballot measure if it is passed, including its cost and source of funding, and the effect of the statewide ballot measure if it is defeated. In addition, the legislative website will include links to websites that discuss upcoming statewide ballot measures, as well as statements of support or opposition written by members of the Legislature, their designees, or members of the commission.
The commission's ballot statements will be printed, posted, and distributed in the same manner as sample ballots. They will also be available for printing at the Secretary of State's office or at any Probate Judge's office.
The House of Representatives passed a companion bill, House Bill 95 by Rep. Steve McMillan.
INFORMATION SOURCE: Press Release from Sen. Jabo Waggoner's office