Wait.. That’s on the Ballot?

Archive+graphic+designed+by+Marianna+Bacallao.

Archive graphic designed by Marianna Bacallao.

In this column, we’ve only really discussed the 2020 presidential race. But that is only one of the many races that will appear on your ballot for the general election Nov. 3.

Whether you are planning to vote in person or have been staring at your absentee ballot in confusion, let’s discuss what happens when you look a little farther down the ballot.

Georgia has two senate races going on. Incumbent David Perdue (R) is facing off against challenger Jon Ossoff (D). On top of this, a special election for retired Senator Johnny Isakson’s seat consists of about 20 candidates, with the frontrunners being incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R), State Sen. Doug Collins (R) and Rev. Raphael Warnock (D).

Our representatives in the House are also up for re-election. This varies by district, so who appears on your ballot is going to depend on what district you are registered in.

For example, District 2, which encompasses much of Macon, has incumbent Sanford Bishop (D) running against Don Cole (R). To see the candidates for your district, or to find out what district it is you actually live in, an easy place to look is house.gov.

There will be other candidates on the ballot, but that varies by county. For example, in Macon-Bibb, residents will be voting for public service commissioner, several state house seats and senate representatives, solicitor of the state court, tax commissioner, clerk of superior court, district attorney and sheriff.

Clearly there is a lot more going on than just the presidential race.

There are also more than just candidates on the ballot this time around. In Georgia, there are two state constitutional amendments that will appear on your ballot. These are votes you should be decided on at the same time as you are deciding between all of these candidates.

And now you may be asking yourself, “What? Constitutional amendments? I had no idea!” Yeah, that’s pretty common.

So let’s look at what these amendments look like, and what they mean for an average Georgia resident.

The first proposed amendment is House Resolution 164 Act No. 597, but on the ballot you will see this language: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize the General Assembly to dedicate revenues derived from fees or taxes to the public purpose for which such fees or taxes were intended?” Yes or No.”

Essentially, this proposed amendment would allow for the Georgia General Assembly to only use specific taxes and fees for what they are collected for. So, if taxes are put into these special funds, the funds are then used for a specific purpose and not for anything else.

So, a yes vote supports the dedication of certain taxes and fees to the public purpose that they were collected for, and a no does not.

The other amendment is House Resolution 1023 Act No. 596 and is on the ballot as: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to waive sovereign immunity and allow the people of Georgia to petition the superior court for relief from governmental acts done outside the scope of lawful authority or which violate the laws of this state, the Constitution of Georgia, or the Constitution of the United States?” Yes or No.

This amendment, if passed, waives the state’s sovereign immunity, which allows Georgia residents to seek relief from state or local law that violates the constitution.

If this is passed, we can sue the state of Georgia in superior courts if they are breaking local, state or federal constitutional law. A yes vote means you support the waving of sovereign immunity allowing residents to sue the state, and a no means you do not.

Confusing, right? Sometimes even I get confused. And if you aren’t from Georgia, then these don’t even apply to you, but there are probably ballot measures on your ballot that you need to look up in advance of casting your vote as well.

Every city, county, district and state will have a different ballot. One of the most important things you can do is to know what is on the ballot before you show up at the polling place. That is the best way to ensure a smooth voting process on Election Day!

Usually, the sample ballot for your county is online, and if you live in Georgia you can go to the Georgia My Voter Page on the Secretary of State’s website to view your full ballot.

Knowing what will be on your ballot is just another one of the many steps to make sure you are making informed decisions. So before you go to your polling place, research, read and then vote!

Absentee ballots can still be ordered until Oct. 24 at vote.org/absentee, and in-person voting began Oct.  12.