The state officials charged with preparing ballots for the Nov. 6 general election need to know whether the proposed photo ID amendment will be on the ballot, and in what form.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, in response to a query from the state Supreme Court, told Chief Justice Lorie Gildea that the state needs a final decision in the photo ID case by Aug 27. He added that it "would be ideal" to have the ruling by Aug. 21.

The Supreme Court is hearing a challenge to the language of the proposed photo ID constitutional amendment, which is scheduled to go to voters for a decision in November. The League of Women Voters argues that the ballot question voters will see is misleading and does not fully describe the changes proposed for the constitution. Amendment supporters say the language is a fair description, and that the Legislature has wide latitude to write such ballot questions.

If the court rules in the League's favor, the amendment could be changed or even dropped from the ballot. Oral arguments are scheduled for July 17.

Ritchie made his comments in a letter to Gildea. Gary Poser, director of elections for the Secretary of State, said in an attached affidavit that the results of the state's August primary are certified on Aug. 21. He said  Aug. 27 marks the end of the period in which a candidate can file an election contest to challenge the results of the primary.

"It is necessary to have such a decision by the close of business on Monday, August 27, 2012, so that county auditors can procede with the printing of ballots," Poser said in his statement.

He said if a decision comes in after the ballots are printed, and the decision is to drop the amendment from the ballot, "voters would have the opportunity to mark their ballots, but local election officials could be ordered by the court not to tabulate the votes in this contest."