Campaign pushing to improve RPS wants better visibility on ballot

Paul Goldman, pictured above, is leading the campaign to modernize Richmond Public Schools. (File photo)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The leader of a campaign to improve Richmond Public Schools is complaining about a referendum that’s on the ballot this November. Specifically, he’s concerned about where the school modernization referendum is placed on the ballot.

The measure would force Mayor Levar Stoney to develop a plan for modernizing schools. The problem, according to Richmond Crusade for Voters, is the referendum is on the back of the ballot and that people might not see it.

The group is asking that posters be placed in polling locations that read, ‘turn it over.’

Below is the letter sent to Richmond City Registrar Kirk Showalter requesting a change of the ballot design:

Dear Ms. Showalter:

On behalf of the Crusade for Voters and the members of the School Modernization Referendum Committee, I thank you for speaking with me about our concerns regarding the ballot design for the upcoming election. As I indicated to you, the wording on the ballot “Read Both Sides” to me means the left and right sides of the ballot. And, I am sure this is how many other voters will view the instruction.

It is encouraging to know that you understood my concern that the semantics and the ballot’s design could potentially impact the vote in terms of voters not realizing Proposition A is on the back side of the two-sided ballot.

You indicated this design worked without any seemingly vote reduction problems last year when a measure likewise appeared on the backside of the two-sided ballot. You believe this was due in good part to your having instructed and trained your precinct poll workers to remind each voter to look at the back side since an important voting matter for their consideration appeared there. As I stated, I believe the ballot design should have included a far clearer instruction to “Read the Back Side” or “Turn It Over” assuring the vote for Proposition A isn’t overlooked.

You said you intended to so train and instruct your precinct poll workers this year as regards to      Proposition A. That should help.  However, last year was a presidential year. The news media   had heightened interest in all things electoral. Gubernatorial year elections are different. Paid TV advertisements dominate.

I don’t question the training and instructing poll workers to tell the voters about Proposition A on the back of the ballot.  However, we can never be sure that all poll workers will follow the instructions at all times or may inadvertently forget to inform all voters. Accordingly, for the Committee, and the Richmond Crusade for Voters which I am president, let me respectfully request other inexpensive measures to insure the fairness of the vote on Proposition A.

First, I request that three posters be placed in conspicuous places inside each polling place instructing voters to check the back of the ballot. Our groups will be conducting a “Turn It Over” campaign in the next two weeks. Thus, I request these posters be entitled “Turn It Over.”

Secondly, I would request that you ask the TV and radio stations to run “Turn It Over” public educational advertisements to alert voters to make sure they look at the back of the ballot.  Or, perhaps you could hold a press conference informing the voters to turn the ballot over. Thank you for you considerations to ensure that voters are informed about Proposition A.  I remain,


Bernice E. Travers


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