The Secretary of State’s Office released this week the list of non-binding questions that will appear on Democratic ballots. The Democratic Party of Georgia submitted them during last month’s candidate qualifying period, but the Republican Party did not offer any, according to Jared Thomas, the agency’s spokesman.
Questions asked two years ago wound up playing a role in changing state law. By coincidence, both parties that year came up with separate versions of a question about whether lobbyists’ gifts to legislators should be limited.
Legislative leaders had pooh-poohed the idea of a gift cap before the primary, calling it a gimmick that would lead to untraceable abuses. But after ballots in both primaries showed an overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans favored the gift cap, lawmakers enacted one in the next legislative session.
This year, the Democrats included questions about raising the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid, funding education and the independence of the state ethics commission.
“Ours is exactly what you would expect of the Democratic Party,” said Democratic spokesman Michael Smith. “We try to speak to the issues we’re hearing from our folks.”
The topics are also what the party hopes will be key issues in this year’s campaign. Nationally, the party is focusing on the minimum wage and expanding Medicaid. And party leaders of the state House and Senate have been hammering away on ethics and education funding since the start of the legislative session.
Smith said the legislative leaders offered input on the wording but not the candidates.
“There wasn’t really any direct coordination with any of the campaign,” he said.
Here are the questions that will appear on Democratic ballots. Voters can choose which primary they want to participate in, or can request a non-partisan ballot just to vote for the judicial candidates.
1. Should Georgia raise the state minimum wage above the current $5.15 an hour?
2. Should Georgians’ federal tax dollars be returned to Georgia to fund Medicaid expansion and relieve the indigent-care burden on our hospitals?
3. Should the Constitution of Georgia be amended to create an independent ethics commission, not tied to the governor’s office, legislature or other elected office, to more effectively police potential ethics violations by elected officials?
4. Should the Constitution of Georgia be amended to make the education budget Georgia’s first funding priority?