VIRGINIA VOTERS will find two proposed amendments to the state constitution on their ballots. One is more comprehensible than the other, and the answers to the two are not the same:

Question 1 is the more puzzling. It reads, "Shall the Constitution of Virginia be amended so that members of local governing bodies can be elected or appointed to vacancies in the office of mayor or board chairman?"

The answer is YES. This change would clarify some colonial-era language that once served a purpose -- preventing an individual from holding more than one office at a time -- but also had the effect of preventing the appointment of a sitting council member to fill a vacancy in the office of mayor or board chairman. The Virginia Municipal League, which supports this proposal, likens the effect of current law to a situation in which a large business enterprise could not fill its presidency with a member of the board of directors. That's wrong -- and a yes vote would allow the state and local governments the flexibility to change it.

Question 2 would add an unnecessary provision to the state constitution -- a requirement that the state government's budget be balanced. The legislature always includes this requirement in the budget bills, anyway -- and that is a sensible way to handle it, through legislators directly responsible to the voters. The proposal would not provide any more authority than already exists, so there is no reason to make the change. A vote NO will preserve things as they are.