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Voters may need a translator for the wordy, hard to understand amendment on the ballot

Posted at 5:40 PM, Aug 03, 2016

Voters who head to the polls later this month may want to consult with an attorney to understand the language of a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

Amendment 4 is about giving tax breaks on things like solar panels, making them more affordable.

But good luck getting that out of the language on the ballot.

Voters who went to law school will have no problem translating the paragraph on the ballot, but for the rest of the bay area, you’ll be staring at sexy, everyday phrases like “exempt from ad valorem taxation” and “assessing the value of real property” versus “tangible personal property.”

It goes on and on with more terms everyday voters will never use.

“This is pure legal language through and through,” said Dr. Susan MacManus, ABC Action News Political Analyst and Professor at USF.

MacManus said this is the top issue she hears about every time there is an amendment on the ballot.

“It’s one of the absolute things that most annoys voters and most upsets them because most of them would really like to know what it is they’re voting on but the language is just so terribly confusing,” she said.

In this case, amendment 4 is actually family simple and not very controversial.

Voting “yes” will allow the state to give tax breaks on solar panels, making it more enticing for people or businesses to go green.

“It will allow for more financing of solar so companies can come in at no upfront costs, put solar on your roof, and you’ll be paying less for energy than you are now,” said Susan Glickman, Florida Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Fair warning: after you figure out what you’re voting on in this election be prepared for another tricky initiative in November.

Glickman said it’s even more confusing.