October 22, 2019

Ballot Issue Facts Should Not Be Censored

According to a Bangor Daily News editorial, Rep. Ralph Chapman, D-Brooksville, is sponsoring a bill, LD990, that would prohibit state employees from offering factual information and knowledge about issues surrounding ballot initiatives. This is ridiculous. Instead of voters and taxpayers being able to have an understanding of facts and knowledge from a specific department that might be directly effected by a ballot measure, the only resource voters would have is to be subjected to the propaganda professionals from all sides, including special interest groups. Evidently this is what the sponsor is seeking.

Chapman said that allowing departments to “campaign” on ballot initiatives, “invites corruption” and that he is not clear if the employees are “politicking” and that we have to, “have confidence that government is doing the people‚Äôs work.” What about people doing the people’s work?

While Chapman says his proposal would still allow a department to issue an, “impartial factual summary” the people are still then subjected to propaganda. Present law prohibits employees from campaigning for or against a candidate for obvious reasons, but in issues where a ballot initiative is forcing a changing of laws or rules within a department, I think each department should be heard openly and honestly, in the same fashion that the bill’s sponsor campaigned for his own election. Is he suggesting everyone else is corrupt? Is somehow perceived corruption from a government department more corrupt than that of the sides battling over a ballot initiative? That argument makes little sense and is quite dishonest.

Ultimately it is still the responsibility of the voter to decide how they want to vote. Censoring information that a voter needs is denying them access to the true.

The bill proposal states that the department would be allowed to create and distribute an “impartial factual summary” but that summary must, “contains a record of arguments made both for and against the issue.” What’s the point? Such a mandated summary would not necessarily contain real facts about an issue only concocted arguments for and against. Those are a dime a dozen in any referendum.

This proposal is nothing more than another typical government grab of control over the liberties of the voter. People have the right to know. It is their money that creates these agencies. They cannot make the best decisions when information is censored. This government overreach is also a typical maneuver to keep a voter population ignorant.

Maine should reject this bill.

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