Lawsuit Filed Over Ballot Language in Ongoing Battle Over Amendment 1 Redistricting

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Virginia Lieutenant Governor candidate Paul Goldman, a Democrat, filed a lawsuit Thursday against the State Board of Elections in the ongoing controversy over Amendment 1 redistricting. The suit argues that the ballot question on the amendment uses misleading language to unfairly skew voter perception.

Although people will assume they have a fair summary before them, Goldman argues this is not the case.

“It’s one of the things I can tell you as a lawyer – the summary is slipshod.”

In an interview with The Virginia Star, Goldman stated a more in-depth summary of the amendment is necessary to inform the people properly of what they’re voting for or against. He said the current summary is an “insulting” assessment of Virginians’ ability to analyze policy.

“What could be more unfair than having people vote for something that’s not on the ballot?”

The suit cites eleven grievances with the ballot’s wording, and relies on textual precedence from the Virginia Constitution and James Madison.

Additionally, the suit makes issue of the omission of language, such as how the proposed amendment will turn the Supreme Court into a legislative body, as well the criteria proposals necessary to make the amendment work. Goldman says a fuller description of the amendment would give voters pause.

“Citizens will say, ‘Wait a minute. Do we want to put this in the Constitution, where we’re never gonna get it out?'”

Polling places will offer a supplementary packet with further information on the amendment. However, Goldman argues that few, if any, people would read it. He says voters rely on the accuracy of the ballot before them.

“The ballot itself needs a fair, transparent summary of its key provisions. Essentially, they put a campaign statement on the ballot,” said Goldman. “The public should have the right to know what they’re voting on.”

Goldman is not the only one critical of the amendment. The newly-created Fair Districts political action committee (PAC) also opposes it. They claim it will give politicians power to gerrymander. However, the PAC FairMapsVA and other proponents insist it will increase bipartisanship and fair voting.

Aside from his personal stance, Goldman, who once served at the Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Virginia, emphasized that the suit’s intent is to improve the ballot description.

“If they insist on their amendments, I’m going to insist on a fair ballot question. My remedy? Draft some fair language! And, put it on the ballot,” he said.

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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Paul Goldman” by NoblesTV.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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