Most people go to the polls to vote for their favorite candidate and are sometimes surprised to see other questions on the ballot.
This year’s primaries are no different as those who choose to vote in the Democratic primary will be asked to vote on four questions while those voting in the Republican primary will be asked to vote on five questions.
While these questions are non-binding, all voters — including those who vote non-partisan — will be asked to vote on Referendum 1, TSPLOST, which is binding and will determine whether a 1 percent sales tax will be added to the region in which the county is located to pay for transportation projects.
The non-binding questions are added by each party’s leadership to gauge the sentiment of voters on issues that the party feels are relevant to their politics. Results of the questions are used to set each parties agenda in the future.
While T-SPLOST has been well discussed, what about the other questions?
Following are the questions that appear on each party’s ballot and a brief explanation of where the question originates:
Question 1— 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?
This question comes as a result of a Georgia Supreme Court ruling last year that struck down the state’s practice of approving charter school applications that had previously been denied by local governments. A binding referendum to amend the Georgia constitution to allow this will be held during the November general elections.
Question 2 — Do you support ending current practice of permitting unlimited gifts from lobbyists to state legislators?
This is an example of the importance of how a question is worded as this also appears on the Republican ballot only with a $100 cap on such limits. Ethics reform is a hot topic among certain voting groups now, and both parties will be jockeying for the upper hand in this debate.
Question 3 — Should Georgia adopt an income tax credit for home energy costs to support the economic security of our families?
Another example of how the question is worded. While most would agree this is a good idea, what will be the impact on the state budget?
Question 4 — Should Georgia reduce sales taxes on Made in Georgia products so as to support the growth of small businesses in our state?
Again, most of us would agree this is a good idea, but with our state’s budget being what it is ...?
Question 1 — Should Georgia have casino gambling with funds going to education?
With Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship struggling to keep up with rising tuition costs and student enrollment, many have suggested that bringing casino gambling to our state could help increase lottery revenues. For some, it’s a moral dilemma — we all want better education in our state but do we want casino gambling?
Question 2 — Do you support ending the current practice of unlimited gifts from lobbyists to state legislators by imposing a $100 cap on such gifts?
Again, the same question as Democratic Question 2 but with a specific dollar cap.
Question 3 — Should active-duty military personnel who are under the age of 21 be allowed to obtain a Georgia weapons license?
We send them off to war at age 18, but don’t let them have a weapon’s license until they’re 21? Or drink until they’re 21?
Question 4- Should citizens who wish to vote in a primary election be required to register by their political party affiliation at least thirty (30) days prior to such primary election?
Many feel this is important to maintaining the integrity of elections and preventing voter fraud.
Question 5 — Should the Georgia Constitution 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?
This question originates from the Right to Life supporters of the party, a group that has some of the strongest convictions of any group.
Regardless of which primary you vote in, your answers are important — even if they are non-binding.
Sen. Buddy Carter can be reached at 404-656-5109. You can connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/buddycarterga or follow him on Twitter @Buddy_Carter.