May 20 ballots to include Democrats' questions

GOP to have no straw poll

Voters choosing a Democratic ballot May 20 will also get to weigh in on a handful of issues.

Monday, the Secretary of State’s Office released the list of non-binding questions that will appear on all Democratic ballots. The Democratic Party of Georgia submitted them during last month’s candidate qualifying period, according to Jared Thomas, the agency’s spokesman.

Questions asked two years ago wound up playing a role in changing state law, when both parties 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 Republicans and Democrats favored the gift cap, lawmakers enacted one in the next legislative session.

This year, Republicans submitted no questions for the ballot, while 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.”

Richmond County Democrats added three more questions – on gun control, medical marijuana and again, expanding Medicaid – bringing the ballot’s total to seven in Augusta-Richmond County.

On all Richmond County ballots, voters in the consolidated government will choose a mayor and five district commissioners and whether to renew a 1 percent sales tax and issue general obligation bonds May 20.

Augusta Democratic voters will select a state senator from District 22, where there are no Republican candidates.

The statewide 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.

Staff Writer Susan McCord contributed to this report.

QUIZ YOURSELF

ARE YOU A CITIZEN?

1. If the president and vice president can no longer serve, who becomes president?

CURRENT EVENTS

2. What was the name of the shooter in Thursday’s rampage at Fort Hood?

U.S. HISTORY

3. The 19th Amendment to extend voting rights to women was adopted in what year?

Answers: 1. Speaker of the House; 2. Ivan Lopez ; 3. 1919

Ballot questions

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 in nonpartisan races.

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?

Here are the questions that will appear on Richmond County Democratic ballots:

1. Should individuals in Georgia be allowed to bring guns into churches, college campuses, some parts of airports and on private property?

2. Should the governor/legislature extend Medicaid to those whose income allows it?

3. Should the use of marijuana be legalized in Georgia for medicinal purposes only?

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