OK, everybody, are we clear now?
Now through 3 p.m. Aug. 8, you can vote – again, or for the first time – for one of eight proposed designs for new Georgia vehicle license plates, which will be used beginning next year.
The online voting process is accessible via the Georgia Department of Revenue’s website, https://etax.dor.ga.gov.
After the votes are tabulated, the three plate designs garnering the most votes will be forwarded to Gov. Nathan Deal, who’ll make the final determination.
The “revote” on the license plates was made necessary by some confusion surrounding the parameters of the design contest, which attracted hundreds of entries that were culled down to eight semifinalists by a group of art professors from around the state.
As things turned out, three of the semifinalist plates included the words “In God We Trust,” and it was those three plates that earned the most votes in the original public online balloting that ended July 8.
Among the reasons that those three plates garnered the most votes were campaigns – one by a Statesboro church, and another via the Internet – to vote for those plates under what turns out to be the mistaken impression that the final versions would, in fact, include the words “In God We Trust.”
Actually, as explained – albeit poorly – by the state revenue department, no license plates will automatically include the “In God We Trust” wording.
State tags include a blank space below the tag number in which either the county name or an “In God We Trust” sticker – available to interested vehicle owners for a $1 charge – can be affixed.
However, rules for the design contest weren’t particularly clear on that point.
Among the rules were a stipulation that “the plate design must conform to the following constraints” including the “county name or ‘In God We Trust’ label in black at the bottom.”
While the revenue department’s explanation that neither a county name nor “In God We Trust” label was meant to be considered an integral part of any design submitted is perfectly acceptable, it’s also possible to read the rule noted above as giving the designer the option of making the phrase an integral part of the design.
In short, if a design included the phrase “In God We Trust,” it’s reasonable to assume that the designer intended for that phrase, to the exclusion of the county name, to be included on the license plate.
At any rate, given the confusion that obviously ensued in connection with the first round of voting – according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story from late last week, it led “groups as disparate as survivalists to atheists to protest that the next Georgia license plate might come pre-printed with ‘In God We Trust’ on it – the Georgia Department of Revenue is to be commended for deciding to reopen the voting on the eight semifinalist plates.
Certainly, choosing a license plate design isn’t among the most critical functions of government, but it’s worth noting here that the revenue department could have stuck to its contention that “In God We Trust” was never intended to be an integral part of any tag design, and Gov. Deal could have proceeded to choose one of the three semifinalists as the state’s new tag.
The fact that the Department of Revenue and other state officials were willing to take a second look at the situation, and to implement a fair resolution, shouldn’t be lost in the discussion of the tag selection process.
So again, thanks, and respect are due to those state officials involved in setting up a new vote on the state’s new license tag process.
And now, get online and cast your vote.