Before heading out to the State Fair, Attorney General Marty Jackley released his explanation of Drey Samuelson’s vote-by-mail ballot initiative (the one that does not include automatic voter registration). The release wasn’t quite in time for Samuelson and friends to submit their paperwork and rally their troops to circulate petitions at the Fair—keep an eye out for petitions this week.
Jackley’s explanation is mostly tolerable, except for the closing line about penalties:
The measure creates felony and misdemeanor criminal offenses related to voting by mail [Attorney General Marty Jackley, explanation of voting-by-mail initiative, 2017.08.29].
Maybe I’m oversensitive, but I get the feeling that this line is crafted to scare voters away from the measure: vote by mail, and you might get in trouble! Jackley could just as accurately have said (in no more words, keeping him under his statutory 200-word limit), The measure creates criminal penalties to protect the integrity of mail-in votes.
The penalties imposed are all in Section 22:
Any person who opens, unfolds, or examines any ballot or makes any communication to any person concerning the markings or contents of any ballot before the counting of the votes is a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Any person who forges another voter’s signature, or by use of force or other means, unduly influences a voter to vote in any particular manner or refrain from voting is guilty of a Class 6 felony.
Any person who intentionally disposes of a ballot in any manner other than provided in this Act is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Any person after procuring a ballot for another voter who intentionally fails to deliver the ballot to the voter, intentionally fails to deliver the return identification envelope and secrecy envelope with the ballot to the person in charge of the election, or tampers with the envelope or ballot is guilty of a Class 6 felony [vote-by-mail petition, as attached to A.G. Jackley’s explanation, 2017.08.29].
The penalties don’t apply to voting by mail; they apply to interfering with the right to vote by mail and to preserve the secrecy of that vote.
I am curious, though: does the first clause of Section 22 make responding to an exit poll or reporting any results of an exit poll before the voting deadline a misdemeanor?