Wording on Minnesota Ballots Causes ControversyThe Voter ID and Gay Marriage amendments will be on the ballots in their original form.
By: Meital Gerwitz, Sibley Scribe
With Election Day coming up, there has been much controversy surrounding the wording of the title of the amendments on the Minnesota ballot. The two amendments concern whether or not to formally ban same-sex marriage in the state constitution, and whether to require a government issued photo ID when voting. On both of these issues it is expected that Republicans vote “yes”, meaning they support the amendments, while most Democrats are expected to vote “no.” Over the summer Secretary of State Mark Richie announced that he had changed the name of the amendment to “Limiting the Status of Marriage to Opposite Sex Couples,” while the original was "Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman." He also changed the title of the other proposed amendment from “Photo Identification Required for Voting” to “Changes to In-person & Absentee Voting & Voter Registration; Provisional Ballots.”
These were both overturned by the Minnesota Supreme Court so they will read as the Republican state legislature originally wrote them. But does the wording really matter? Haven’t most people already made up their minds before walking in to vote? Wouldn’t they already have read the whole amendment instead of just the title to know what they were voting for or against? Many experts say no. Research has shown that decisions may be based on one simple factor, not a whole lot of complex variables. People may think that their decision has been influenced by multiple factors, when in reality it could be just one factor to make an impact. For many people, the wording on the ballot could be that factor. For example, imagine the school was deciding whether or not to ban French fries from the cafeteria based on a parent vote. They could say: “Vote to Ban French Fries, Your Child’s Favorite Food, From the Cafeteria.” Or, the ballot could say “Vote to Improve Health in the District by Limiting Cafeteria to Healthy Alternatives.” You could see how the vote could be very different in these two cases. So when our family and friends go to vote on November 6, we can hope that they read beyond the title on the ballot and actually think about what they are voting on.