"An Act relating to election pamphlets and to the presentation of initiatives and referenda on the ballot; relating to review of applications for certification of initiatives; relating to the circulation and subscription of recall petitions; and providing for an effective date. "
"With the increasing complexity of laws being proposed by initiative, it is difficult to provide an accurate description of the contents of a proposed law in only six words."
- Sen. Therriault
AS 15.45.180(a) currently provides that once an initiative petition is certified as containing the number of valid signatures required for placement on the ballot, the lieutenant governor shall prepare both a ballot title and a proposition for the election ballot. The same mechanism applies at AS 15.45.410(a) for referenda. Under existing law, the ballot title must indicate the "general subject of the proposition," and may not exceed six words. The proposition must give a "true and impartial summary" of the proposed law, in not more than 100 words.
With the increasing complexity of laws being proposed by initiative, it is difficult to provide an accurate description of the contents of a proposed law in only six words. Likewise, the Legislature is currently taking on more controversial and complex legislation that some voter groups may attempt to overturn through use of the referendum.
The current word length limitations on ballot titles contributes to the likelihood that voters will not fully understand the scope and effect of initiative propositions and referenda that are placed before them. Allowing the lieutenant governor up to 25 words for the ballot title will provide the opportunity for a more accurate description of the contents of the proposed law.