ATLANTA — Early voting for Georgia's primary race is now underway, and before heading to the polls, an 11Alive viewer wanted more details about some of the non-candidate questions you could see on the ballot.
Is it true the primary voting ballot for Republicans and Democrats have different questions?
Yes, it's true that the Republican and Democratic primary ballots have differing advisory questions.
WHAT WE FOUND
Right away, our sources confirmed this is accurate. When Georgia voters get a Republican or Democratic ballot during the May 2022 primary, they'll see additional questions in addition to candidate consideration. These questions are typically called advisory questions, and a spokesperson for Georgia's Secretary of State's Office confirmed only political parties are allowed to submit such questions during primaries.
The questions, however, are non binding, meaning they're for information gathering.
Nonprofit Ballotpedia breaks down the basics behind such questions on its website, clarifying "the difference between an advisory question and any other type of ballot measure is that the outcome of advisory questions don't result in a new, changed, repealed, or rejected law or amendment."
Doug Teper, a Georgia state professor of political science and a former state legislator, explained the answers instead are a way for parties to poll their members.
"They're trying to find out what the base of each party wants to believe in," Teper said, adding that the results of such questions could carry extra weight in terms of campaign priorities for the general election. "If there's a really strong endorsement of those questions, I think you'll see maybe some of the advertisements will play on those issues."
So yes, it's true. Georgia voters will see different questions on their primary ballot depending on party. But if you don't want to vote in either party's primary and only want to vote on local nonpartisan races, you do have the option to use a nonpartisan ballot.
“The ballot advisory questions give Republican voters an opportunity to voice their opinion on what they view as important issues facing our state and nation," Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer said in a statement. "These questions, in turn, give party leaders and elected officials information on Republican voters’ priorities ahead of the midterm elections.”
Georgia Republicans' ballot advisory questions include the following:
- The Biden administration has stopped building the border wall and illegal border crossings have dramatically increased. Should securing our border be a national priority?
- Education is the largest line item in the state budget. Should education dollars follow the student to the school that best fits their need, whether it is public, private, magnet, charter, virtual, or homeschool?
- Florida has passed a law to stop social media platforms from influencing political campaigns by censoring candidates. Should Georgia pass such a law to protect free speech in political campaigns?
- Two of the three current federal work visa programs are lottery based. Should issuance of federal work visas instead be based on job skills?
- Biological males who identify as females have begun competing in female sports. Should schools in Georgia allow biological males to compete in female sports?
- To prevent ballot tampering, state law prohibits political operatives from handling absentee ballots once they have been marked by a voter. To protect the integrity of our elections, should the enforcement of laws against ballot tampering be a priority?
- Absentee drop boxes are vulnerable to illegal ballot trafficking. Should absentee ballot drop boxes be eliminated?
- Crime has dramatically increased throughout the country including in our capital city of Atlanta. Should the citizens of residential areas like the Buckhead community of Atlanta be allowed to vote to create their own city governments and police departments
According to Scott Hogan, Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, such questions are "one of many ways we engage with Democratic voters ahead of the midterm elections. After primary voting concludes, we look forward to supporting our slate of strong Democratic candidates as they fight to advance an agenda that will move Georgia forward.”
Georgia Democrats' ballot advisory questions include the following:
- Should the United States remove obstacles to economic advancement by forgiving all student loan debt?
- Should all Georgians have access to paid parental leave following the birth or adoption of a child?
- Should every three- and four-year-old in Georgia be given the opportunity to attend a high-quality preschool free of charge?
- Should Georgia voters have the right to gather signed petitions to directly place questions on the ballot, whether to change the law or poll the public?
- Should families earning less than $150,000 per year receive an expanded tax credit to help cover the costs of raising children?
- Should the State of Georgia expand access to health care for over half a million Georgians by utilizing federal funds to expand Medicaid?
- Should the State of Georgia expand voter access by increasing early voting opportunities, allowing same-day voter registration, removing obstacles to voting by mail, and installing secure ballot drop boxes, accessible at all times, through Election Day?
- Should marijuana be legalized, taxed, and regulated in the same manner as alcohol for adults 21 years of age or older, with proceeds going towards education, infrastructure, and health care programs?
- Should the State of Georgia incentivize the development of clean, renewable energy sources to support America's energy independence?