ONLY ON 3: Language for Wrightsville Beach smoking ban, Wilmington ballpark ballot questions confuses voters


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — As voters prepare to go to the polls next month, we looked at sample ballots to see how a couple of big issues are presented. What we found are two referenda with language that can be difficult to understand.

Wrightsville Beach resident Kasey Powell thinks smoking should be allowed at the beach. But when she looked at the ballot question that could ban smoking on the sand, it took her a few times reading through it to understand what her vote would mean.

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“I don’t know what section 92.02 is,” Powell said of the town ordinance cited. “I just read the key words and then went back again.”

When Wrightsville Beach voters go to the polls in a month, they will see the referendum, which reads, “An ordinance of the Board of Aldermen of the Town of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina amending Section 92.02: Littering and Smoking on the Beach Prohibited; and Section 92.99: Penalty of the Code of the Town of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.”

Mayor David Cignotti says the wording was pulled straight from the community-backed petition.

“Most of the citizens here are educated and know what the proposal is, and simply put the proposal is for a smoking ban on the beach strand,” Cignotti said.

On the ballot for Wilmington voters is the $37 million bond referendum, which also has some tricky language: “SHALL the order authorizing $37,000,000 of bonds secured by the pledge of the full faith and credit of the City of Wilmington, North Carolina to pay the capital costs of acquiring, constructing and equipping a baseball stadium; and acquiring land, rights-of-way and easements therefore and a tax to be levied for the payment thereof be approved?”

We showed the ballot to Wilmington resident Justin Dondero.

“it’s a very roundabout way of asking if the funds should be approved,” he said. “It seems like it could be a lot simpler.”

Christopher Johnson said he also found the wording difficult to understand.

“It took me about two or three attempts to fully understand.”

The New Hanover County Board of Elections makes the ballots. Elections Director Marvin McFadyen told us the language came directly from the Town of Wrightsville Beach and City of Wilmington.