Voters question ‘misleading’ Pennsylvania ballot issue

Voters will be asked to approve a change to a judge's retirement age

Voters will be asked to approve a change to a judge's retirement age


PENNSYLVANIA (WKBN) – The November election will have a lot of races that will get close attention this November, such as who the next president will be and who will control the Senate. But some races fly under the radar.

One of the lesser-known issues that Pennsylvanians will be voting for has to do with when judges should retire, and some are saying the question is not what it appears to be.

It’s a question that has been at the center of several lawsuits about how it will be phrased. Currently, the ballot question reads:

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that justices, judges and justices of the peace be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years?

But what it doesn’t say is starting to get some attention.

Annette Shimer from the League of Women Voters says the wording is misleading.

“What it doesn’t tell you is that currently, they have to retire at 70,” she said.

The Franklin & Marshall College Poll out of Lancaster did an experiment. They asked likely voters the same question but in different ways.

When pollsters asked Pennsylvanians the question as it is worded on the ballot, 64 percent of voters said yes, judges should have to retire at 75. But, when they asked others the question with more information, telling them the current retirement age is 70, only 39 percent of voters approved the change.

“I don’t know that I would characterize it as misleading, but I would suggest that it omits important information that people would need to make up their mind,” said Berwood Yost, chief meteorologist at Franklin and Marshall College.

On Election Day, there is one place that you’ll get that piece of information — on a flier. The law requires that three of the fliers have to be posted at every precinct, just not on the ballot.

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