Instructions Pros Writing in the News

Plain language in a democracy

Just taking a second to vent my frustration about the lack of plain language on the ballot I read this morning. Here’s a sample.

As someone with an earned doctorate in English linguistics and writing, I would place myself near the top of any chart displaying literacy skills among US citizens. But I had no idea what Alabama Amendment Number 4 meant when I read it.  I had to do some digging to figure out that voting “yes” means:

 Remove all racist language from the Constitution of Alabama!

Today’s ballot included many amendments designed to clean up our state constitution. That’s a worthy effort. I can’t justify my apolitical leanings . . . But it really is hard not to be cynical about government by the people when the people can’t understand what government is saying!

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