Franklin Countys First News

Politics & Other Mistakes: If you think you’re confused now …

Al Diamon

The legal mess engulfing ranked-choice voting will continue to slosh around the state’s political digestive system for some time. But regardless of how it comes out, you’ll get to vote on the issue in June. In a perfect world, you’d find a question on your ballot that reads something like this:

“Do you favor allowing the parts of the ranked-choice voting law that cover primary elections and congressional elections to take effect?”

You can understand that, right? If you think ranked-choice is a good idea, you’d vote “yes.” If you don’t, you’d vote “no.” Simple enough. Except that’s not the officially approved wording. Secretary of State Matt Dunlap and his crack team of cryptographers have instead developed this gem:

“Do you want to reject the parts of a new law that would delay the use of ranked-choice voting in the election of candidates for any state or federal office until 2022, and then retain the method only if the constitution is amended by December 1, 2021, to allow ranked-choice voting for candidates in state elections?”

If you favor RCV, you vote “I have no friggin’ idea what that means.” If you oppose it, you vote “I’m thoroughly friggin’ confused.” If you’re not sure how you feel about ranked-choice, you vote “Whoever is responsible for this question is a friggin’ idiot.”

At last, something we can all agree on.

In breaking the ballot question down, it does appear to contain words from the English language. But then, so does film star Sean Penn’s new novel “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff,” which is filled with sentences like this:

“Whenever he felt these collisions of incubus and succubus, he punched his way out of the proletariat with the purposeful inputting of covert codes, thereby drawing distraction through Scottsdale deployments, dodging the ambush of innocents astray, evading the viscount vogue of Viagratic assaults on virtual vaginas, or worse, falling passively into prosaic pastimes.”

(Thanks to Professor John Frary for alerting me to this literary landmark.)

I suspect Sean Penn may have had something to do with writing the ranked-choice ballot question.

If not, my next best guess is author Gertrude Stein (“Little pieces of that have been where that has made while that is there need it as it can be said …”), although her having been deceased for 86 years does provide a credible alibi.

L. Ron Hubbard, sci-fi writer and founder of the Church of Scientology, is also supposed to be dead, but his followers claim his mind is still functioning on another planet. If so, this item should serve as evidence of his complicity in the ballot question: “As-isness is the condition of immediate creation without persistence, and is the condition of existence that exists at the moment of creation and the moment of destruction, and is different from other considerations in that it does not contain survival.”

Consider also the anonymous author of these instructions that came with a remote-controlled toy helicopter made in China:

“1. The control distance will shorter when the queantity (sic) of electricity is not full.
“2. When the quantity of the electricity of the helicopter is not full, the hrlicopter (sic) will difficulty or the height of fly is not enough.
“3. If the helicopter become danmaged (sic), deformation, please repaired in time.”

I’d also include Donald Trump on this list of incomprehensible communicators, but the ballot question is much too long for a tweet and doesn’t contain any unnecessary capitalizations.

I’ve consulted with several language experts (assuming my dogs qualify as language experts), and they assure me Dunlap’s ridiculously complicated question can be translated into everyday English thusly:

“How are you on ranked-choice voting, hell yes, or hell no?”

This is important information for the campaigns both for and against this issue to convey to voters. In spite of conflicting legal language (allegedly written by Chinese Scientologists after reading a bad translation of a Sean Penn novel) saying elections should be decided by a plurality in one section and a majority in another, RCV may be used in the June primary, even though its constitutionality is in doubt. But its future will be decided by the People’s Veto of the measure delaying ranked-choice, which is what that convoluted question of Dunlap’s is all about.

On that ballot item, you should vote “yes” if you favor RCV.

Vote “no” if you oppose it.

If you’re susceptible to vertigo, avoid reading the question at all.

Email write stuff maybe at Something. Something else.

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5 Responses »

  1. Thanks for clarifying this confusing ballot question. I think. Maybe I should just give up voting.

  2. I'll be skipping the June vote.

  3. Please don't not vote because of this stupidity. We need to go vote to get this ridiculous theory of voting out of our election system.

  4. This isn't the first time the people of Maine got confused by a referendum. I've been guilty in the past of voting blind and I regretted it sometimes, but when I was young it was considered a "duty". After the "Clean Elections" vote I realized I had to pay closer attention. Yes you have the right to vote but if you know you're uninformed I feel you should abstain. RCV is no good. Let s get rid of it.

    Abolish the 2 Parties!


    "Under ranked voting, I'll change my last name to Aardvark prior to running because once some get past the one they want they may simply work their way down a ballot for the rest."

    That could work; more importantly it gives us a hint of the ingenious ways office-seekers may devise to "work" this fabulous, marvelous, trans-formative reform. Politics will go on as before, of course, but there could be some entertaining novelties.