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OPINION: Don’t look over down ballot races, questions

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Georgia absentee ballots are being distributed now, and early voting begins Oct. 12. As a recently designated swing state, us Georgians are being inundated with ads on TV and online.

Gov. Brian Kemp’s razor-thin win over Stacey Abrams in 2018 showed Georgia is more purple than red. Kemp won by 54,723 votes among nearly 4 million ballots cast.

A CBS poll of likely voters from Sept. 22-25 has President Donald Trump at 47 percent in Georgia with former VP Joe Biden at 46 percent, well within the 3.4 percent margin of error.

A UGA poll from Sept. 11-20 has the men tied at 47 percent. With the balance of the U.S. Senate in play, Sen. David Perdue (R) is favored by 47 percent of Georgians in the CBS poll, while 42 percent support Jon Ossoff (D). That is also within the 3.4 percent margin of error.

A Monmouth poll from Sept. 17-21 for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Kelly Loeffler has the incumbent at 23 percent. Challenger Rep. Doug Collins (R) and Raphael Warnock (D) join a three-way tie at 23 percent. Matt Lieberman (D) is in fourth place at 11 percent.

Loeffler, who was appointed to fill a vacant seat by Kemp, is challenged by 21 candidates. It’s being called a free for all for a reason.

All of these races have received national attention. What some people find as they open their absentee ballots – or plug their card into a voting machine – are down ballot races for state and local offices, as well as constitutional amendments and referendums.

These are the races that affect us here at home the most. Getting an absentee ballot gives citizens time to research the issues before casting their votes. They also do not have to be returned by mail, which has been deemed objectionable by many this year.

Those ballots can be returned in person. What voters should not do is show up at a polling place if they have already requested an absentee ballot. Officials will ensure each voter only gets to vote once.

The first constitutional amendment appears to be an effort to be fiscally responsible with state funds. While the amendment text nor the summary includes an explanation of why the amendment is needed, requiring public funds to be used for intended purposes makes sense.

The law would also require new laws that establish fees and taxes to designate a state agency to handle those funds. Streamlining the state bureaucracy may be at issue.

The second amendment is a result of two attempts by the General Assembly to pass a pass a low limiting sovereign immunity to give citizens the ability to challenge state law, the Georgia constitution and U.S. Constitution. Superior Court judges would also be granted the power to rule on those lawsuits.

Both initiatives were vetoed by Govs. Nathan Deal and Brian Kemp, but constitutional amendments cannot be vetoed and go directly to voters.

In an AJC article published after the passage of the resolution, State Rep. Andrew Welch, a Republican from McDonough, said, “All we’re doing is giving the keys to the courthouse back to the people.”

The only referendum on the ballot should garner wide support, however. It appears to be aimed at supporting organizations like Habitat for Humanity, which helps put families in homes that are safe and well constructed.

Georgia voters have plenty of time to get a ballot and analyze all options ahead of voting. For those planning to vote on Election Day, do your homework.

All measures on a ballot deserve equal attention. There are two seats open on the Public Service Commission.

Who has your vote?