Writing:Introductory section of a ballot measure article
The introductory paragraph should include the following features:
- The measure descriptive name and official title
- The ballot year it may/did appear on
- Type of measure (see below)
- Measure description
- Measure status - The introductory section should have a sentence familiarizing the reader with the barebones of the status of the initiative. Examples include: "It has been certified by the Secretary of State for circulation;" "Its supporters turned in 321,592 signatures on July 2 to qualify it for the fall ballot;" "It won, with 51.2 percent in favor;" "The initiative was heading for the November 2008 ballot, but its supporters did not collect sufficient signatures to qualify it for the ballot."
Multiple descriptive names - The introductory paragraph should refer to whatever names people might know the initiative by, within reason. This is a courtesy to the reader, so that they can quickly tell whether they are reading an article about the initiative they were looking for. In the opening sentence of a measure page, the full title of the ballot measure should be referenced and should match the title of the page. For example, the first sentence of this measure page refers to the measure as: Colorado Mandatory Labeling of GMOs Initiative, Proposition 105. The title of the page, along with the introductory sentence, will likely need to be changed as measures are assigned their official ballot names/numbers by the secretaries of state.
Sometimes, there is a controversial initiative whose supporters and opponents, within their constituencies, refer to the same measure by very different titles. For example, a ballot measure to ban gay marriage might be known by different people as a:
- Protect Marriage Amendment
- Gay Marriage Ban
In cases like this, it is important to assign the measure page a name that accurately describes what the measure will do if approved without encouraging any bias. Further down in the introduction, it should be noted what supporters and opponents refer to the measure as. For example, "Proposition 520 is also known as the Protect Marriage Amendment by supporters and the Gay Marriage Ban by opponents."
Measure type templates
For ballot measure articles, the long version is generally used in the intro.
- See article: Mississippi Balanced Budget Amendment (2015)
Below is an example of an intro for a proposed measure that has not been certified to appear on the ballot.
The Mississippi Balanced Budget Amendment may appear on the November 3, 2015 ballot in Mississippi as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.
The measure, upon voter approval, would require the state legislature to "enact a balanced budget of the entire expenditures and revenues of the state for each fiscal year."
This is an intro for a certified measure that has not yet been voted on.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Amendment, Question 1 is on the April 7, 2015 ballot in Wisconsin as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would provide for the election of the Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice by a majority of the justices serving on the court. The chief justice would serve a two year term.
Currently, the Wisconsin Constitution mandates that the Chief Justice be appointed based on seniority from the pool of justices sitting on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson has served as the court's chief justice since 1996. She's considered a "liberal," but the court majority is considered "conservative," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Opponents argue that the amendment is a political attack on Chief Justice Abrahamson, while supporters contend the proposed system is more democratic and would decrease conflict amongst the justices.
This is an intro for a certified measure where an election has passed and the measure was voted on.
The Colorado Regulation of Games of Chance, Amendment P was on the November 2, 2010 statewide ballot in Colorado as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was defeated.
The proposal called for transferring the licensing of games of chance from the Department of State to the Department of Revenue.