Don’t forget the bottom of ballot

To the editor:

On Nov. 6, when we are looking at our ballots, below the choices for county commissioner come three blocks of small print with “yes” or “no” choices, entitled “2012 Constitutional Questions.” Many voters may skip these. That would be a mistake.

The first two questions are amendments to the New Hampshire Constitution proposed by the Legislature. They require two-thirds “yes” votes to succeed. Not two-thirds of ballots, two-thirds of those who vote on the question. Not voting on the question simply lowers the number required to make two-thirds, thus making it more likely to pass.

These amendments would be disastrous for this state’s future. The first would prohibit any future Legislature from ever passing any new tax on personal income. Even if you are opposed to an income tax now, do you really want to forbid your grandchildren from ever considering it? Even when property taxes will have increased steadily, as they certainly will?

The second proposal strikes at the heart of our separation of powers. After apparent deference to the Supreme Court as empowered to administer the court system, it gives the Legislature the final say in that administration. Do we really want a Legislature like our present one to have power to meddle in the administration of justice?

The final question is automatically proposed every decade, asking whether a convention should be called to “amend or revise” the state Constitution. There is no compelling reason to do this now, as the total costs for such a convention would amount to a million dollars or so, for which no provision has been made in the state budget, we should give it a miss.

So persevere to the bottom of the ballot, and when in doubt, vote “no.” But vote.

Richard Cassius Lee Webb


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