By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday the Informed Voter Act (House Bill 95) passed in the Alabama House of Representatives. HB 95 was designed to remove voter confusion and uncertainty over the ballot language of any proposed statewide constitutional amendments
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Steve McMillan (R) from Bay Minette. Rep. McMillan told the Dothan News, “When voters cast a ballot on a statewide constitutional amendment, they should not have to worry if they have somehow fallen victim to a bait-and-switch operation in the voting booth. This bill will make sure that referendum ballot language is fair, easy-to-understand, and, most importantly, truthful in all aspects. The fact that this bill didn’t tarry around the House and passed on just the third legislative day, shows that it is an important priority for the Republican legislative leadership, the GOP Caucus, and the citizens of Alabama.”
Before the session Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn announced that State Rep. Steve McMillan (R) from Bay Minette would serve as sponsor of the Informed Voter Act, or House Bill 95 which is part of the Alabama Republican Caucuses 2013 “We Dare Defend Our Rights” Agenda.
Speaker Hubbard said, “The issues and implications that surround constitutional amendments are too important for voters to suffer confusion while in the voting booth, and this bill is designed to combat such uncertainty from occurring. Steve McMillan is a respected veteran lawmaker who has championed this issue since it was first raised, and I am confident he will guide this much-needed legislation to passage with the skill and efficiency that has marked his career”
Rep. McMillan said in a written statement, “Voters should not have to wade through highly technical legal jargon or misleading ballot language in order to determine their vote on a constitutional amendment. Explanations for constitutional amendments should be as plainspoken as the people of Alabama, who simply say what they mean and mean what they say. I’m certain the composition of this committee will ensure that citizens are provided information that is as honest, accurate and accountable as possible.”
The bill now goes to the Alabama Senate where it is being sponsored by Senator Trip Pittman (R) from Daphne. On Tuesday, Pittman addressed nearly 200 conservative activists at the Welcome Back Rally. Pittman told the crowd that he was introducing the Alabama Informed Voter Act in the Senate. The Alabama Informed Voter Act would make the wording of State Constitutional Amendments simpler and easier to understand and would provide much greater transparency about future amendments on the ballot. Pittman said that he wanted to get both budgets done by the 20th day of the legislative session.
H.B. 95 creates the fifteen-member Fair Ballot Commission comprised of five elected officials, including the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of State; five citizens appointed by the elected officials; and five attorneys licensed in Alabama. Neither the citizens nor the attorneys may be elected officeholders.
Prior to a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment, the commission will place on the Legislature’s website a plain language summary of the statewide ballot measure. In addition, the legislative website will include links to websites that discuss upcoming statewide ballot measures, as well as statements of support or opposition written by members of the Legislature, their designees, or members of the commission.