By John Brewer, Editor.
This week the Journal received the sample ballot for the October 9th election in Red River Parish. It is unreadable on your digital device. Mine too! So here are some editorial thoughts on the situation.
The sample ballot was sent by:
Julie Chism Morales
Election Program Specialist
Elections Business Division
Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin
Your editor found it interesting that there are restrictions on publishing the sample ballot they furnished. Here is the warning attached to Ms Morales’ email:
“By opening the attached sample ballot file in this email, you are agreeing not to edit, alter, modify or prepare any derivative works of the content of the sample ballot pdf of the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office. Any improper use of the sample ballot pdf is strictly prohibited and subject to proper legal action under R.S. 18:1461.2.”
The Journal is not interested in running afoul of the law by making the information on that sample ballot readable by you. It would be easy to edit out all the white space and just present what is on the ballot. But that is not allowed by state law.
See the image below. There is a little bit of text, which is what will be on the ballot, and a whole lot of white space. By publishing all that white space, the text is “smalled down” so as to be practically unreadable on your handheld or even desktop device.
The Journal called Ms Morales. Her response was, “That is the way it will look on the voting machine.” But the voting machine screen is a couple of feet wide and tall. The information is readable once you get into the voting booth.
Your Editor believes in the free exchange of information however I question why this state agency in effect hides the information in plain sight by the method of presentation.
We talked with John Tolbert in the Secretary of State’s Office. He said, “I can’t change what the legislature enacted. I understand what you are saying (the size of the text vs the size of the whole image) but I cannot authorize any altering of the image.”
In our discussion, Tolbert explained that the legislature wanted to assure that there was no editing of the sample ballot, which could result in wrong or misleading information being presented as fact. That is a great idea. But the presentation method in effect denies readers of The Journal the ability to see what the sample ballot says.
This sample ballot deals with an election in October. And the only items on the ballot in this parish are four constitutional amendments. The Journal will get around the law against altering the sample ballot by presenting the information in another form. We will do it closer to election date. And we will get you the information in a timely and legible manner.
Below is an explanation of the amendments that will be on the October ballot. It was furnished by 22nd District Representative Gabe Firment.
The Journal will not hide it in plain sight!
Here is the sample ballot furnished by the state agency:
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