The ballot, asking whether smacking should be a criminal offence, raised fears yesterday that enthusiasts on both sides may try to corrupt the vote by stealing voting papers from letterboxes over the next few days."The ballot ... raised fears"? That's an odd way to put it. Presumably someone raised fears on behalf of the ballot, but we are left to guess exactly who that might be.
Is it Mr Peden who has raised these fears? Or is he just responding to them? The very idea that someone might go to the concerted effort of organising a massive campaign of letterbox invasion and mail pilfering in order to influence a referendum which a) is certain to go heavily in favour of one side anyway and b) the Prime Minister has already said he will ignore is just a wee bit laughable.
Chief Electoral Officer Robert Peden urged voters to alert him to any possible interference by ringing his office's tollfree number if they have not received voting papers by next week.
He warned that anyone interfering with ballot papers faced a fine of up to $40,000 or up to two years in jail.
"If you go round and pick up voting papers, people will realise that they haven't got their voting paper and the original voting paper will be cancelled," Mr Peden said.
It doesn't really matter anyway, as the scary headline and lead-in paragraphs are really just an introduction for a pretty standard article on the referendum - I guess "Referendum about to happen" doesn't have quite the same ring to it.