Mollis hails change on Question 1 commercial

David Lewis and officials at the Rhode Island DOT have been worried that Question 1 on the November ballot -- for transit spending, with a disproptionately heavy federal component -- might be confused with an unrelated, yet similarly titled ballot question in Massachusetts.

Now comes word from the office of secretary of state Ralph Mollis:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Oct. 21, 2008) – Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis has convinced opponents of a controversial question on the Massachusetts ballot to revise a television ad to avoid confusing Rhode Island voters who also face a Question 1 on November’s ballot.

“Although the ad targets Massachusetts voters, the spot was so general that it could have come from anywhere,” said Mollis. “I heard a few complaints from Rhode Islanders were unaware the ad was about a Massachusetts ballot question. With a Question 1 of our own on the ballot, I could not take the chance that Rhode Islanders would be confused by the ad.”

The ad, from the Coalition for our Communities, asks Bay State voters to reject a ballot question that would eliminate the state income tax. In Rhode Island, Question 1 asks voters to approve an $87.215 million bond issue for transportation projects such as road and bridge improvements.

“We didn’t realize there was a problem until Secretary Mollis brought the issue to our attention,” said Harris Gruman, campaign manager for the Coalition. “Once he explained the situation, we ordered the ad revised to make it clear we are speaking to Massachusetts voters.”

The Coalition’s TV spot has appeared on many television channels seen in Rhode Island. The ad now includes several graphic frames that read “Massachusetts Question 1” as well as one that reads “Unemployment in Massachusetts is up.” Gruman expects the new ad to begin running as soon as tomorrow.

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