AJC: GOP to pick voters' minds during primary

GOP to pick voters’ minds during primary

BYLINE: JENNIFER SUTCLIFFE

Staff
DATE: July 6, 2006
PUBLICATION: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
EDITION: Main; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A note to Republican voters: Don’t forget to check the end of the ballot during the July 18 primary elections. The Gwinnett County Republican Party has tacked on five extra questions for party members to ponder.

The questions won’t lead directly to legislation. Instead, voters’ answers will tell legislators where to steer decision-making on these issues, GOP Chairman Gregory Howard said.

“There is no better way to empower voters,” Howard said. “This beats any poll by any media source.”

The questions seek voters’ leanings on illegal immigration, the Fair Tax Bill, tax returns and the state gasoline tax.

“These are the issues I hear most about,” Howard said. “They have never left the forefront of [voters’] minds.”
Once the Gwinnett County Elections Board tallies the votes, the results will be made public, Howard said.

“This is just one key to helping legislators know the support they have or the lack of support,” Howard said.
The Democratic Party won’t be posing any nonbinding questions in Gwinnett this election, said Angelia Knight, first vice chairwoman of the party. “We’re just trying to focus on getting out the vote,” Knight said.

Polls like this, called non-binding referendums, are done on the county level across Georgia, Howard said.
Such questions are common for both major parties, said Mark Rountree, a political strategist affiliated with the Republican Party.

“It gives an honest sense of what the party’s voters believe,” Rountree said.

They can be included on the primary ballots because the parties, not the government, run the primaries.
Howard said the Republican Party devised the questions in one night with the help of legislators such as Rep. John Linder of Duluth, who proposed the Fair Tax Bill.

Unlike other methods of polling, only people who actually vote can answer the questions, said Kathryn Gartland, first vice chairwoman of the Republican Party.

“In an election year like this, where we have fewer candidates running, [the poll] will help energize the voters out there,” Gartland said.

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