Clarify ballot questions

The two ballot questions on the bottom of the Nov. 6 general election ballots are written in confusing legalistic language, so here’s what the ACLU, which supports both questions, has to say about them:

Ballot Question 1 would, basically, again allow taxpayer lawsuits against the government, something that had been

allowed since 1863. In 2014, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that people, as taxpayers, did not have standing to challenge illegal or unconstitutional governmental actions.

Question 2 would add an explicit right to privacy for personal and private information to the NH Constitution.

The ACLU said that the word “privacy” does not appear anywhere in our state constitution. Question 2 “would require law enforcement to acquire a probable cause warrant before gaining access to such things as your online search history.”

We need our right to privacy to be just as robust as our technology.

Question 2 “would require the government to show a compelling state interest in obtaining access to the personal and private information before a court would order such access. Sometimes, the state will be able to meet that burden, particularly when public safety is at risk, and sometimes it would not.”

As an example, the ACLU said, “Currently, the police can collect your DNA from any item you leave behind somewhere – be it a cigarette butt in the police station, a coffee cup at a business meeting, or your desk at work. Q2 would allow them to seize the item on which the DNA was present but would require them to get a search warrant to access and utilize the DNA, just as the Supreme Court has required them to do when entering cellphones to collect data.”

As we all know from watching TV crime shows, officers often pick up discarded items and have them tested for DNA. At least they do this on TV. And on TV, at least, it seems to work. But should it be permitted in real life?

While we have a very strong positive opinion of the ACLU, we wonder if voting “yes” on Question 2 is the right thing to do? After all, if you throw away a coffee cup or a cigarette, haven’t you relinquished ownership?

That seems to be a logical conclusion. The ACLU is in the business of protecting all the individual rights that it can, but it doesn’t mean the ACLU always is right, and we’re not sure that it is on Question 2.

On Question 1, however, we have no doubt: Taxpayers should be allowed to sue the government, so we believe a “yes” on that question is important.

Question 2? Just not sure.

This information came from Wilton Peace Action.