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Dishonest Ballot Initiative Wording Is Another Way Democrats Rig Elections

A parents rights group sued AG Rob Bonta for dishonestly crafting the title and summary of their ballot initiative to benefit Democrats’ policy preferences.


Would you support a law protecting healthy minors from life-altering injections and amputations, side effects of which may include infertility, cancer, sexual dysfunction, and heart trouble?

Would you support a law that makes it a crime for a doctor to give “gender-affirming care” to minors whose gender dysphoria places them at a heightened risk of suicide?

If the average voter were asked each of these two questions, it’s not hard to deduce that the wording of question No. 2 is far more likely to garner “no” answers, regardless of the false assumptions the question relies on. We see the same reality at work in polling: The way you ask someone a question greatly influences the answer. It’s why lawyers aren’t allowed to “lead the witness” during direct examination.

For example, when PBS commissioned a poll in 2021 asking about restricting transgender surgeries for children, pollsters used this euphemistic language: “Do you support or oppose legislation that would prohibit gender transition-related medical care for minors?”

Unsurprisingly, they got 66 percent of respondents to say “oppose,” with only 28 percent admitting support. Who doesn’t want kids to get “medical care”?

Conversely, when the conservative group Convention of States Action asked respondents the following year, “Do you believe underage minors should be required to wait until they are adults to use puberty blockers and undergo permanent sex change procedures?” an overwhelming 79 percent said yes.

There are doubtless other factors contributing to the polling discrepancy (though it’s worth noting both survey samples included more Democrats than Republicans). But the more than 50-point spread between the polls has something to do with the question language. Researchers have tested the idea that ballot language affects voters’ decisions and come to the same obvious conclusion.

Democrat officials and activists are aware of this too — and use it to their advantage when writing the language voters see on their ballots.

‘Prejudicial, Partial, and Inaccurate’

For example, parents rights group Protect Kids California is suing the state’s attorney general, Rob Bonta, for dishonestly crafting the title and summary of their proposed ballot initiative to benefit Democrats’ policy preferences. The summary provided by Protect Kids California for its own ballot initiative says it will:

(1) repeal the California law that permits [male] students to compete in female’s sports and students to be in females’ locker rooms and bathrooms; (2) prohibit schools from deceiving parents about their student’s gender identity crisis and stop them from secretly transitioning a child; and (3) stop sex change operations and chemical castrations on minors.

I might quibble with the phrase “sex change” — since it’s metaphysically impossible to change a person’s sex — but overall, the summary is pretty clear. The actual text of the proposed statute is similar, with provisions like, “Health care providers are not permitted to provide sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures on a patient under the age of 18 years,” and “any sex-segregated facility, including, but not limited to, a bathroom or locker room, on the campus of a school shall be segregated based on biological sex.”

Bonta took it upon himself to title the initiative the “Restricts Rights of Transgender Youth Initiative.” The summary created by his office says the initiative, in part, “Prohibits gender-affirming health care for transgender patients under 18, even if parents consent or treatment is medically recommended,” and that it “Requires schools to notify parents whenever a student under 18 asks to be treated as a gender differing from school records without exception for student safety.” According to California law, the attorney general’s dishonest title and summary must appear on every page of the petition.

Protect Kids California is suing Bonta over his obvious attempt to prejudice voters and run interference against the ballot initiative. The group contends his “title and summary is prejudicial, partial and inaccurate.”

How to Get Away with (Making People Vote for) Murder

Sometimes the dishonest framing is in the proposed measure itself, rather than the summary. In Ohio last year, for example, pro-abortion activists behind Issue 1 carefully crafted the benign-sounding amendment to cloak its drastic ramifications.

“Every individual has the right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to contraception; fertility treatment; continuing one’s own pregnancy; miscarriage care; and abortion,” the amendment text stated, brushing over the fact that it made no exception for minors and threw open the door to transgender surgeries for kids as a kind of “reproductive decision.”

Furthermore, the text used a common Democrat trick to ensure the amendment would allow abortions throughout all nine months of pregnancy. It winked at allowing abortion restrictions after “fetal viability,” but kneecapped any such restrictions by making exceptions “if in the professional judgment of the pregnant patient’s treating physician it is necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health.” It sounds nice to the voter who skims the page for the first time at the polling station on his lunch break, but it really allows any doctor to prescribe an abortion for any reasons that can be couched as “health”-related — presumably including a woman’s mental distress at being pregnant.

Define the Terms, Control the Discourse

Language is an all-important tool, and Democrats often use it to manipulate and take advantage of Americans who don’t have hours to spend sifting through media lies to figure out the truth. Dishonest terms like “gender-affirming care” sound positive and invite sympathy, even though the procedures described by the term are neither medical “care” nor “affirming” of a person’s real sex.

And — just like media blackouts (see: Hunter Biden laptop) or partnerships between election offices and left-wing dark-money groups — deceptive ballot initiative language is one of the many methods Democrats use to rig elections before the first vote is even cast.

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