I almost fell off my chair too, when I first saw it.
The wording on the referendum on the upcoming November ballot concerning whether NY should allow non-Indian casino gaming, and which you are being asked to vote "yes" or "no" on.
It asks you if you support a measure, which would: "promote job growth, increasing aid to schools and permitting local governments to lower property taxes"
Well, ...who would vote against that?
But as you know, there are many who are opposed to casino gaming.
What if they, not the legislators and the Governor who support casinos, were allowed to construct the working of the proposition?
What if, when you entered the voting booth you were asked whether you would support a measure which: "..will increase the number of gambling addicts and broken families, resulting in the closure of innumerable nearby (taxpaying) businesses, creating a glut of unemployed residents in the host communities. See Falls, Niagara."
Would you vote for that?
I'd wager most would not.
The wording on the ballot proposition is now the subject of a lawsuit.
Brooklyn attorney Eric Snyder sued the State Board of Elections, claiming that the language of the referendum takes an advocacy position and shouldn't be put to voters.
The Board of Elections argues that Snyder's action was filed too late to challenge the referendum, as the law requires a challenge within 14 days of when the referendum language was certified.
According to Gannett Albany's Jon Campbell, while the last day for certification was Aug. 5, the language wasn't posted online until after that date.
The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) has also weighed in, urging a judge to have the Board of Elections re-write the referendum in a more neutral way.
In their words, "The language appears to be worded in a way that would incline a neutral voter to vote 'yes.'"
NYPIRG also cites a recent Siena College poll that showed the current wording significantly swayed voters to vote "yes."
This isn't a rant on the pros or cons of casinos.
I'm not taking a position either way here.
Nor do I think those who are rolling the dice by hiring attorneys and going to court are doing so.
But I think, and believe they may too, that it illustrates the age old effort by politicians, particularly those in New York State, to spin things in order to push them through.
In other words, once again, they're betting you're stupid.
I am all for simplifying the language of referendums, as historically most have been written in language a Rhodes Scholar might have trouble interpreting.
Moreover, this is a referendum (unlike most) that voters really care about enough to actually vote on.
Thus, they should let the people decide, in an honest forthright fashion.
And leave the word games out of the voting booth.
Follow me on Twitter: @DaveMcKinley2