League of Women Voters Finds Fault with Amendment U Proponent Statement

…High School Debate Judges to the Rescue?

The Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce isn’t fooled by Lisa Furlong’s outright lies about Amendment U in the official ballot question pamphlet. Neither are several other civic-minded South Dakotans, including, most importantly, the League of Women Voters of South Dakota.

LWV president Judy Hall, backed with comments from opponents of the fake payday lending rate cap and an Augustana ethics professor, says Amendment U sponsor Lisa Furlong’s official statement on the payday lending measure is so misleading that it warrants reform of how the Secretary of State compiles the ballot question pamphlet:

“It is not a ‘strict’ 18% cap. Amendment U supporters have misled the voters,” says retired nurse Mary Ihli. “The average payday loan in South Dakota has a 574% APR. Their amendment does not change that. As a South Dakotan, I think this is wrong to mislead the public and target our South Dakota poor.”

“The claims in the pamphlet for Amendment U are scandalous,” says Dr. Stephen Minister, ethics professor at Augustana University. “It’s unethical to mislead the voters to think it does the opposite of what it would actually do. It’s also unfair to the voters to have misleading statements come through an office of state government.”

Presentation Sister Gabriella Crowley says, “It’s just not right to mislead voters like this. Their 18% would not apply to any agreement with a signature. All those loans have signatures. That means it’s a fake 18%. What we need is a real 36% limit, not a fake 18%.”

Cathy Brechtelsbauer of Bread for the World -South Dakota, says, “The description claims it protects families, when in reality, Amendment U protects the payday lenders from ever having rate limits.”

Judy Hall, President of The League of Women Voters of South Dakota believes that all information put before the voters by the South Dakota Government should be truthful. Misleading statements found in the pro statement on Amendment U are a disservice to all South Dakotans. Safeguards should be put in place to ensure that pro and con statements on the ballot questions are honest. If it is not possible to ensure the correctness of the statements, then they should be eliminated from the election pamphlet [Judy Hall, League of Women Voters of South Dakota, press release, 2016.09.09].

As the sponsor of two referrals and author of the Con statement on Referred Law 19, I support the state’s continued publication of proponent and opponent statements. Given that an effective statewide media campaign probably costs six figures, this one public pamphlet gives low-budget campaigns one opportunity to compete on an equal footing with big-budget campaigners like Rod Aycox, Henry T. Nicholas, and the Koch Brothers. Lisa Furlong’s big-money minders would probably love to see the state stop offering low-budget competitors the opportunity to get their message out in one state-funded public election document.

As a high school debate judge, I’m comfortable with the state’s providing an equal forum for both sides to offer their best arguments and trusting the voters to weigh those statements side by side and choose the stronger argument.

My debate background inclines me toward two debate-related solutions that might address the League of Women’s Voters’ concerns.

First, include rebuttals in the ballot question pamphlet. Ask proponents and opponents to submit their 300-word statements by July 21. Send proponent statements to opponents and vice versa, and allow the competing parties to submit 150-word responses to each others’ statements by July 31.

Turn these judges loose on the Pro/Con statements—problem solved! (photo by SDHSAA)
Turn these judges loose on the Pro/Con statements—problem solved! (photo by SDHSAA)

Second, convene a panel of the best debate judges in the state to review the proponent and opponent statements and rebuttals. South Dakota’s debate judges spend every winter weekend (not to mention lots of class time throughout the school year and the summer) critically evaluating the merits of logic, evidence, and rhetorical devices without imposing their own political or philosophical biases. Ask these debate judges to evaluate the accuracy of statements and logical validity of arguments offered by both sides. Instead of bogging down in a constant cycle of revision, simply post the debate judges panel’s assessment of each statement alongside the Pro and Con statements. Knowing that they will face such rigorous evaluation from committed, unbiased experts, proponents and opponents alike would strive to write factually and logically impeccable statements for the ballot question pamphlet.

The solution to liars like Lisa Furlong is not less information.  The solution is more information, subjected to rigorous review by the trustworthy experts of South Dakota’s debate community.

9 Responses to League of Women Voters Finds Fault with Amendment U Proponent Statement

  1. mike from iowa

    Practically the only ones not to find fault with the measure are the people who wrote it and back it. Most everyone else has caught onto the joke, thanks in large part to Master.

  2. Of your two ideas Cory, the rebuttal idea has the better opportunity to pass. Now, imagine for a minute if rebuttal statements were a part of this ballot pamphlet. The opponents would point out how dishonest the proponent statement is. And the opponents to the 36% rate cap would write a rebuttal statement flat out lying about what the proponents of that measure wrote. So we would have everybody calling everybody else liars. Would that bring any clarity to voters? It would just muddy the waters further and probably mean more “no” votes on both measures.

    My proposed solution is to use AG explanations on the ballot issue pamphlet. The AG explanation might not highlight every point a proponent would, but it’s not going to be a lie.

  3. Mike, are you now a minion and do minions have a protected status there in Iowa, where you are from?

  4. mike from iowa

    That is mignon as in filet mignon, to you, Sir.

  5. Mike, I realize you are from Iowa and they only speak Dutch in Orange City, but did you know our host Mr. H knows some French and would tell you that name means “lover” or “cute”?

    I’m sure by Iowa standards you are very cute.

  6. mike from iowa

    I thought it was beef from the smaller end of the tenderloin, since I used to raise beef in iowa.

  7. Mignon Mike, beef from the smaller end of Iowa. I like it.

  8. Ror, the AG explanations are included in the ballot question pamphlet, above each pair of Pro/Con statements. A.G. Jackley’s statements this year are generally tolerable, but he is also a part of the one-party regime that many of these measures are targeting. He has also taken campaign contributions from the payday lenders. I know we can’t get away from political influence in the state, but perhaps explanations from SD Supreme Court justices would be superior to A.G.’s explanations… or, as I think Donald Pay suggested in an earlier post, have LRC write the explanations.

  9. This is a critical issue for South Dakotans. Amendment U must be defeated but it’s crafty design makes that a steep uphill climb. Each candidate should be speaking of the merits of Referred Law 21 and the deceitful voice of greedy crafters of Amendment U. This subject provides are great segue into speaking of Referred Law #22.