“While voters sort through competing claims over Measure 49, they might also consider the extraordinary lengths to which proponents went to secure a favorable ballot title for the land-use question in the upcoming ballot…Emails show Nesbitt and Stacey began lining up a team to poll and run focus groups on ballot language in January. Their crew included local pollster Lisa Grove; political consultant Steve Novick, now a candidate in May’s Democratic primary for U.S. Senate; and lawyer Margaret Olney.”
The group tested ballot language in March and April to determine which words would have the greatest chance of overturning Measure 37. Nesbitt says the focus groups and polling provided information about exactly how voters felt about Measure 37 and how they would like to see it fixed. Proponents also discussed other strategies such as deliberately making the ballot summary so long that county elections officers would leave it out of the Voters’ Pamphlet, leaving voters with only the carefully chosen ballot title to consider.
“I don’t see huge advantages to the words added to the summary to expand it,” Measure 49 campaign strategist Liz Kaufman wrote in a June 6 email to Nesbitt and Stacey. “I realize that was done in order to try to make it so long that counties won’t print it, but it doesn’t seem to add much value through it’s [sic] actual meaning.” (Proponents ultimately shaved the summary down to 125 words). They also debated how neutral the measure’s explanatory statement should be…”
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