There are five questions on the Republican ballot and four on the Democratic ballot. The only overlap concerns the unlimited gifts state legislators may now freely accept from lobbyists. The GOP ballot asks if voters support a $100 limit, while Democratic voters are asked: “Do you support ending current practice permitting unlimited gifts from lobbyists to state legislators?” The Democrats have the right question. The right answer is yes.
The first question for Republicans is not one that would be expected of the conservative party that espouses family values: “Should Georgia have casino gambling with funds going to education?” GOP state Senate majority leader Chip Rogers of Woodstock recently declared he’s voting yes, but he may be riding the wrong horse politically. More in keeping with the party’s base is the last GOP question asking if the state constitution should 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…”
Gun rights, another GOP strong suit, arise in Question 3: “Should active duty military personnel under the age of 21 be allowed to obtain a Georgia weapons license?” Question 4 raises the issue of whether voters should be required to register by party 30 days in advance of primary elections. This seems reasonable enough as a way to prevent crossover voting that can skew election results and circumvent the will of a majority of primary voters.
Democrats will be asked a couple of Mom and apple pie questions touting a state income tax credit for home energy costs and reducing “sales taxes on Made in Georgia products” to support growth of small businesses.
The hot-button issue for Democrats is their first primary ballot question: “Should the Constitution of Georgia 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 is a cause dear to the hearts of Republican leaders including Gov. Nathan Deal and Sen. Rogers. Thus, the Nov. 6 general election ballot will have a proposed constitutional amendment that would trigger HB 797 and restore state authority to license charter schools over local school board objections. Deal went to Rogers’ home county in May to sign HB 797 at the Cherokee Charter Academy which for years was stalled by local school board opposition.
Incidentally, the general election ballot question framed by the bill’s sponsors is certain to mislead voters: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?” The real question is missing, to wit: Shall the state be authorized to override local denial of a charter school application?
There ought to be a law to prohibit misleading ballot wording.