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True Proofreading Stories

  • Writer's pictureRoss Edwards

To Vote or Not to Vote

The state of New York recently passed a bill that would automatically register people to vote whenever they fill out any paperwork with state agencies. A checkbox would allow the person filling out forms to opt out of automatic registration.

However, the language of the bill incorrectly instructs ineligible non-citizens to NOT check the box -- essentially requiring them to register despite their ineligibility.

Fortunately, the fact of the law passing won't result in massive waves of ineligible voting. The law allows for passage of a "chapter amendment" that fixes the drafting error after the fact.

Of course, this hasn't stopped a lot of hand-wringing and grandstanding by opponents of the law -- and a lot of public outcry and misinformation.

The apparent lesson? Words matter. And, even though published errors (and passed laws) can be corrected, those errors can't be considered harmless. Best to catch them the first time around.

Image: US gov - derivative work base map by Ali Zifan, coloring by Vartemp [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

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