What's being asked:
• Should the Georgia Constitution be amended to allow the state to override locally elected school boards’ decisions when it comes to the creation of charter schools in your county or city?
• Do you support ending the current practice permitting unlimited gifts from lobbyists to state legislators?
• Should Georgia adopt an income tax credit for home energy costs to support the economic security of our families?
• Should Georgia reduce sales taxes on Made in Georgia products so as to support the growth of small businesses in our state?
• Should Georgia have casino gambling with funds going to education?
• Do you support ending the current practice of unlimited gifts from lobbyists to state legislators by imposing a $100 cap on such gifts?
• Should active-duty military personnel who are under the age of 21 be allowed to obtain a Georgia weapons license?
• Should citizens who wish to vote in a primary election be required to register by their political party affiliation at least 30 days prior to such primary election?
• Should the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide that the paramount right to life is vested in each innocent human being from his or her earliest biological beginning without regard to age, race, sex, health, function or condition of dependency?
The T-SPLOST referendum is not the only controversial question on this summer’s primary ballots — but it is the only question with binding implications.
In addition to the tax and candidates, ballots on the July 31 primary also will seek to gauge public sentiments with nonbinding, party-affiliated questions.
Democrat ballots will have four questions, while Republican ballots have five.
The only topic to cross the aisle is gifts from lobbyists. Both sides ask whether the current practice of unlimited gifts should be ended, though their questions are framed differently.
“Do you support ending the current practice permitting unlimited gifts from lobbyists to state legislators?” the Democrat party asks.
“Do you support ending the current practice of unlimited gifts from lobbyists to state legislators by imposing a $100 cap on such gifts?” the Republican ballot asks.
“Unfortunately, there’s generally no coordination between the parties when they ask these questions …,” Democratic Party of Georgia Chairman Mike Berlon said. “But when you get those results and you look at those, it’s going to give people in the Legislature a pretty good idea of what Georgians as a whole think of electoral reform.”
But for other questions, Berlon said the parties are attempting to gauge sentiments on particular issues, without necessarily meeting in the middle.
Georgia Republican Party spokesman Chris Kelleher agreed.
“We call them a temperature gauge,” Kelleher said, explaining that the questions offer a chance for representatives to receive feedback and for voters to voice their opinions.
Kelleher did not go into specifics about the questions’ intentions, though Berlon said his party could apply the answers when drafting future legislation.
“We want to know what our people are thinking about certain issues that are relevant to Georgia. … Once we get those results back, it’s going to allow us to sit down and take a look at it and see what we think,” Berlon said. “Because sometimes it’s surprising. Sometimes when you are involved in politics and you’re very close to it, you get a skewed perspective of what people and your constituents are thinking.”
Because primary voters are more politically active, Berlon said the questions tend to produce an accurate reflection of public sentiment.
The state parties placed the questions on statewide ballots, but local parties also can use the ballots to allow voters to weigh in on more local issues. Neither party added local questions in Liberty County.