Election law tells how to circulate referenda petitions, as a certain number of valid signatures are needed to place a public question on the ballot.
Petition circulators job is legally defined as follows: (1) to verify potential signers as registered voters in a political subdivision; and (2) to witness each signature personally. And while circulators can answer questions, they shouldnt solicit votes (at least not yet).
The time to educate the public about what yes and no votes mean is between when the question is certified onto the ballot and the election. The push of how to vote usually comes after this process has begun.
The medias job is to investigate and report facts and then let the people decide; media should avoid publishing one-sided rhetoric and making personal attacks. Media should remain neutral.
Information should be fair and balanced with equal time and/or space provided to all positions so the public gets the necessary facts.
What is disturbing about this current effort?
As petitions are being circulated, the yes has been checked off on the petitions.
Some petitions are being left laying around; unwitnessed signatures are invalid. Signatures must be witnessed by the circulator; circulators should verify the signers are residents and registered voters in the jurisdiction where the election is being held.
In Stephenson County, voters will be even more confused, as the County Board has a separate $20 million binding road referendum on the same ballot. Two $20 million road referendums? The campaign for both will help support the other and confuse voters.
Why doesnt each government unit pass a resolution to support the projects and encourage a letter campaign from citizens, businesses and special interest groups?
Why are we using public resources for an advisory referendum to tell our state representatives how we want them to vote?
Contributing writer Marianne L. Garvens is a Freeport resident.
From the Aug. 23-29, 2006, issue