Official voter guide (ballot measures)

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Voter Guides
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TitleSummary & Analysis
Fiscal note (impact statement)
Arguments pro and con
Features, compared by state
Publication requirements

An official voter guide for a ballot measure, whether state or local, is a publication prepared by a state or local government to familiarize voters with the substance and content of a ballot measure that will appear on the ballot in an upcoming election. In some jurisdictions, these are referred to as voter pamphlets.

About voter guides

From state to state, official voter guides for ballot measures vary in these ways:

  • How they are distributed
  • When they are distributed
  • To whom they are distributed
  • Who is responsible for preparing them
  • What type of information is included in them, and who is responsible for distributing them
  • Whether they are provided in more than one language and if so, what languages they are provided in.

Voter guide features

Despite the many differences, voter guides often have some of the following features:

  • The official ballot language - this may include Ballot title and official ballot summary.
  • A neutral explanation or analysis - this is a short summary by a governmental of the key points. Some summaries can run multiple pages, while other only a paragraph or two.
  • A fiscal impact statement - this is generally a detailed explanation on how the measure will affect state finances.
  • Arguments for and against the measure - these are typically statements written by support or opposition detailing their argument, but they may also be general points compiled by the agency publishing the guides. Some states allow comments from the public to be submitted as well.
  • A statement of legal changes - this may be the full text of the statute or amendment that will become law if the measure is approved, and often includes mark-ups to show exactly how the law was changed.

See also

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