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Radio ad using the word 'Constitution' may be confusing voters

Radio ad using the word 'Constitution' may be confusing voters

By Logan Daniels | Posted - Nov. 1, 2010 at 7:27 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Political analysts say a radio ad telling voters to reject four proposed amendments to Utah's Constitution could be misleading voters on purpose.

A group called Save our Constitution is sponsoring the ad, which says:

"My mom taught me some basic things I teach my kids too: work hard, be kind, respect our heritage. Now I find out that some people are trying to change our Utah Constitution. They want to put things in the constitution that don't belong there. My parents taught me that our constitution is inspired. I believe that. Please join us in voting to keep our constitution as it is. Vote against the constitutional amendments."

Kirk Jowers, executive director of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics, says the amendments haven't received a lot of media attention and this ad is filling the vacuum.

Jowers says the problem with the ad is in its wording. He says when you listen to it you're not sure if they're talking about the U.S. Constitution or the Utah Constitution.

"The cynical view is that the creators of this ad are trying to take advantage of the U.S. constitutional fervor and the need to get back to that document, but whether or not that applies to the Utah Constitution is dubious," Jowers says.

He says the amendments are too different for one group to oppose them all.

"It's hard to believe anyone would be willing to spend their money to try to knock out all four," he says. "More likely, they want to get rid of one of the four and they're using this as way to perhaps knock out one."

According to Jowers, the amendments getting the most attention are proposals A and D. Amendment A would extend the Utah constitutional requirement for secret ballot elections to workers deciding to organize a union and who would represent them. Amendment D would create an independent ethics commission to oversee the state Legislature.

Jowers says amendment A is by far the most controversial.

The ad sponsor group Save our Constitution could not be reached, but an argument against the amendments in the voter pamphlet says:

"Utah's founding fathers carefully crafted the Utah Constitution. We believe they got it right the first time. Amending our state constitution should be undertaken cautiously and only when absolutely necessary and after sound deliberation. It should not be amended cavalierly or for cynical political purposes."

Information on each of the amendments along with pro and con arguments are in the voter pamphlets and can be found at elections.utah.gov/VoterInformationPamphlet2010.html.

E-mail: ldaniels@ksl.com

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Logan Daniels

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