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Lengthy ballot questions may be slowing down voters

Secretary of State William Galvin’s office said lengthy summaries of the ballot questions may have slowed down voting today, but the double-sided ballot is similar to those voters have seen for years.

Galvin spokesman Brian McNiff said the text of Question 1 -- the “right to repair” measure -- is split between the front and back of the ballot because if the entire question had been printed on the same side, the ballot would have likely been increased by an additional page.

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“The ballot hasn’t changed over the years,’’ McNiff said. “The questions might be a little longer than others years, but we’ve had years when we’ve had more initiative questions on the ballot.’’

He added, “they might be a little longer than, say, two years ago, but other than that, the format of the ballot hasn’t changed.’’

McNiff acknowledged that longer summaries of the ballot initiatives, prepared by the attorney general’s office, may take longer for voters to digest and that people may be reading them fully for the first time.

However, he said, Galvin’s office mailed out 3.5 million voter guides before the election, or one for each household in the state. He also said the ballot carries two separate alerts on it, telling voters they need to mark their choices on the front and the back of the double-sided ballot.

“The secretary does urge people to read the questions before hand, to look at the (voter guide) book, just to save time, to move the lines along during the voting process,’’ McNiff said. “But if people want to consider it for the first time, if they’ve never seen it before, there is nothing we can do about it.’’

McNiff said state law sets out the order for voting with the electors for president always holding the top spot on the ballot followed by congressional seats, state legislature, the governor’s council and then regional and local offices.

McNiff said Galvin’s office has not received complaints about the ballot design.

John R. Ellement can be reached at
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