"The Nazareth Page,” printed each week in this bulletin offers down to earth reflections on the scriptures. Many thanks to Dr. Dave Thomas, a local theologian, for providing it. Dave was part of the faculty in the five-year deacon formation process hosted by our parish. With deference to his insight, I am dedicating this week’s letter to another purpose.
As members of Saint Mary Catholic community we are also members of the greater Helena community here in the State of Montana. Like all registered Montanans, this year we are asked to vote on Legislative Referendum No. 126, which concerns voter registration. How you vote is your business. Vote your mind. Vote your heart. Vote your conscience. Just vote.
Sadly, the language used in the referendum itself is biased. The referendum asks voters if they favor “protecting the integrity of Montana elections by ending late voter registration.” It would be fine just to ask voters whether or not they favor late voter registration, but to say that ending late voter registration protects the integrity of Montana elections is an opinion. Choices belong on the ballot; opinions do not. One could also say that the integrity of elections is protected when as many persons as eligible to register actually do register and then vote. This too is an opinion, and it would not belong on the ballot either.
The language used in this referendum resembles a technique known in the political world as “push polling,” by which answers are solicited in response to questions phrased in biased terms. Clearly, the integrity of elections is something to be protected, but the language of this referendum presumes that late voter registration violates this integrity.
Advocates and supporters of various political opinions or candidates are prohibited by law from handing out campaign literature or electioneering in any way at the polling place or within proximity of it. The language of this referendum is nothing more than electioneering in the voting booth itself!
I advocate here for nothing more than fairness on the ballot itself, a clear and unbiased choice without regard to political party or persuasion.