T-SPLOST ballot language misleading

Passage of the proposed one-penny regional sales tax in late July is critically important to the economic well-being of metro Atlanta and Georgia. However, even those high stakes don’t justify the unfair description that voters will see printed on the July ballot, which claims that the proposal “provides for local transportation projects to create jobs and reduce traffic congestion with citizen oversight.”

Opponents of the transportation tax, including the tea-party movement, have criticized that wording as “marketing language” that “improperly promotes a ballot question.” And they’re absolutely right. That’s exactly what it does.

Unfortunately, under longstanding Georgia law and court rulings, state officials are given a great deal of discretion in how ballot questions and proposed constitutional amendments can be worded.

In a 1974 case, Sears v. State, the Supreme Court of Georgia tried to warn the Legislature against the temptation “to interject its own value judgments concerning the amendments into the ballot language and thus to propagandize the voters in the very voting booth, in denigration of the integrity of the ballot.”

The justices also ruled that in the case they had under review, the Legislature had indeed yielded to that temptation. But they refused to rule that such ballot-box propagandizing was illegal or unconstitutional. The standard they set instead required that the wording of a ballot question must merely “be adequate to enable the voters to ascertain on which amendment they are voting.”

In other words, if the wording is accurate enough to let voters distinguish which question they’re being asked to decide, that’s good enough. The courts want nothing to do with determining whether the wording is fair.

Given that history, any legal challenge to the ballot wording is likely to be difficult. Georgia voters instead are forced to rely on the sense of fair play among state officials, in this case Secretary of State Brian Kemp, whose office drafted the preamble.

Even supporters of the T-SPLOST have to admit that the ballot language fails the test of fairness and accuracy and is an attempt to influence the outcome of the election. In a better world, that language would be changed to present a more balanced description of the ballot question, and state law would be changed to require such balanced language in all future elections.

But don’t hold your breath. The power to slant ballot language, however unfair, will not be surrendered easily by those in power.

– Jay Bookman

206 comments Add your comment

Jm-pass TSPLOST silly people

June 22nd, 2012
1:12 pm

Mehh

Get ‘er done

Jm-pass TSPLOST silly people

June 22nd, 2012
1:13 pm

November 2012: outsource Obama

And create real jobs. :)

Jm-pass TSPLOST silly people

June 22nd, 2012
1:15 pm

Reducing congestion: your road to freedom

Joe Hussein Mama

June 22nd, 2012
1:16 pm

Jay, can you link us to the complete wording of the ballot question, please?

Erwin's cat

June 22nd, 2012
1:17 pm

I thought Amendment 1 (i think) last year was just as misleading

a blanket non compete labeled as “making GA competitive” or some such nonsense

Mr. Holmes

June 22nd, 2012
1:17 pm

Point well taken. Another example of the difference between Left & Right in this country; your colleague blogger on the other side of the aisle would never post an item like this, whose entire purpose is to cede a fairly important point to the political “opposition.”

When the Right does grudgingly concede a point (and “grudgingly” does not begin to do justice to the emotional dissonance this experience causes) it always quickly followed by a rationalization and/or a “t!t for tat” justification. Kudos to Jay for supplying neither.

Senior Citizen Kane

June 22nd, 2012
1:19 pm

They should take a chunk of the money and give substantial tax breaks to companies that have at least 20% of their employees telecommuting. Get people off the road!

stands for decibels

June 22nd, 2012
1:20 pm

Jay, I applaud your fair-mindedness, but given how our Republic has survived after who-knows-how-many stupid “Protect Yer Traditional Marriage” ballot atrocities, somehow I think we’ll manage this TSPLOSTian business.

(and being the cynical bastage I am, I still don’t think it’ll pass.)

Normal Free...Pro Human Rights Thug...And liking it!

June 22nd, 2012
1:20 pm

““provides for local transportation projects to create jobs and reduce traffic congestion with citizen oversight.””

Hmmmmm…well let’s see…why wouldn’t they like the wording? “Create jobs”…can’t have that…might make Obama look good. “Reduce traffic congestion”…can’t have that…might pizz off the oil companies. “Citizen oversight”…can’t have that…might lose me some power.

Nope…looks like a no brainer. If it’s going to help the people of Georgia, it can’t be good…

Jay

June 22nd, 2012
1:21 pm

Erwin, that’s an excellent and egregious example.

And JHM, the preamble to the question is as printed above. The question itself, written into the law by the Legislature, will state:

“Shall _______ County’s transportation system and the transportation network in this region and the state be improved by providing for a 1 percent special district transportation sales and use tax for the purpose of transportation projects and programs for a period of ten years?”

Aquagirl

June 22nd, 2012
1:22 pm

Every ballot question I can recall resembled push polling. Some were near incomprehensible.

carlosgvv

June 22nd, 2012
1:22 pm

“forced to rely on the sense of fair play among state officials”

That’s about as reasurring as being forced to rely on the reason and open mindedness of fundamentalist Christians.

barking frog

June 22nd, 2012
1:26 pm

Courts are required to rule
in the light most favorable
to the government…

Fly-On-The-Wall

June 22nd, 2012
1:27 pm

Well all we have to do is follow the money and we’ll find out why it is being worded this way. I sure hope our esteemed legislators are not planning on pulling those funds into the General Fund so they can play.

josef

June 22nd, 2012
1:28 pm

IMAM

And, you, Parse-On Brownlow, should know, eh? :-)

Anyway, will catch up later. This one actually does pique my linguist’s nerve. However, I’m more interested in reading what y’all say.

Mr_B

June 22nd, 2012
1:28 pm

Pretty much in the same vein as the insertion of the word “Jobs” or “Family” in any kind of insane tax cut or socially Neanderthal bill passed by the Republican House of Representatives.

The wording for the proposed charter school amendment with be equally misleading.

Jm-pass TSPLOST silly people

June 22nd, 2012
1:28 pm

Re jay’s 1:21

Seems reasonably worded to me

Get ‘er done! Learn to enjoy driving again.

Jm-pass TSPLOST silly people

June 22nd, 2012
1:31 pm

Obama is against transparency and oversight when it comes to his own affairs

Boooo

Mr_B

June 22nd, 2012
1:32 pm

“That’s about as reasurring as being forced to rely on the reason and open mindedness of fundamentalist Christians.”

Penalty for gratuitous denigration of religious affiliation without logical connection to the thread topic. 15 yards and repeat the down.

Joe Hussein Mama

June 22nd, 2012
1:32 pm

Jay, thank you.

The ballot question itself seems fairly worded, but the preamble certainly seems to be some salesman-like language.

Keep Up the Good Fight!

June 22nd, 2012
1:35 pm

Reminds me of recent ballot measures on restrictive covnenants in employment agreements. “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to make Georgia more economically competitive by authorizing legislation to uphold reasonable competitive agreements?” Utter nonsense and misleading. It was actually trying to do the opposite

Butch Cassidy

June 22nd, 2012
1:35 pm

I just saw the AJC headline saying that gas was expected to drop below $3.00 a gallon. Is Newt back in the running?

barking frog

June 22nd, 2012
1:35 pm

Maybe they will build a freeway to nathan’s back door, at least from the one
to zell’s back door, if it passes.

too little time

June 22nd, 2012
1:38 pm

“I thought Amendment 1 (i think) last year was just as misleading

a blanket non compete labeled as “making GA competitive” or some such nonsense”

Yep, and within ONE WEEK of that abomination becoming law, my employer stuck a 2-year noncompete contract in front of me with a “sign it or resign”. Thanks for screwing me, people of Georgia.

stands for decibels

June 22nd, 2012
1:39 pm

nitpick time.

…providing for a 1 percent special district transportation sales and use tax …

Any Fair Tax fans want to tell me where they kinda screwed up, propagandizing-wize, here?

(TSPLOSTers done left some cash on the table. Literally.)

j$

June 22nd, 2012
1:42 pm

Hopefully T-SPOLST will pass and the proceeds given to MARTA.

They need to get their annual “December Holiday” party reinstated.

Adam

June 22nd, 2012
1:44 pm

Not sure if anyone mention edit yet, but the Supreme Court has ruled that you can say any profanity you want on television, as well as be nude on television, so long as you are an individual and not barred from doing so by the network or other private corporation rules.

Adam

June 22nd, 2012
1:44 pm

mentioned it* not mention edit. Jeez.

Keep Up the Good Fight!

June 22nd, 2012
1:45 pm

Ahhh, what would a discussion of TSPOLST be without irrational and deceptive swipes at MARTA. Oy vey….. years from now, some posters will still be predictable in their nonsense.

Joe Hussein Mama

June 22nd, 2012
1:46 pm

Adam — “Not sure if anyone mention edit yet, but the Supreme Court has ruled that you can say any profanity you want on television, as well as be nude on television, so long as you are an individual and not barred from doing so by the network or other private corporation rules.”

That wasn’t how I read the decision, but admittedly, I only glanced at it.

Doggone/GA

June 22nd, 2012
1:47 pm

“so long as you are an individual and not barred from doing so by the network or other private corporation rules.”

In other words, they can still bleep you if they choose…but the FCC can’t come after them if they don’t.

0311/8541/5811/1811/1801

June 22nd, 2012
1:48 pm

0311/8541/5811/1811/1801

June 22nd, 2012
1:48 pm

Ooops ! Was that “fair” ?

kayaker 71

June 22nd, 2012
1:49 pm

T-SPLOST funds are supposed to be used to aid every segment of our community regardless of race, political leaning or financial status. If would could trust those who hold the purse strings to this money to be fair, just and non biased in how the money is spent, it would be easier to vote for this bill.

0311/8541/5811/1811/1801

June 22nd, 2012
1:49 pm

Adam:

…………… and if someone uses that same profanity say ………. in front of your wife and young daughter ?

0311/8541/5811/1811/1801

June 22nd, 2012
1:50 pm

kayaker 71

You can’t ……………… that’s why there is a “Johns Creek”, Georgia.

godless heathen

June 22nd, 2012
1:50 pm

Reminds me of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Now who could oppose that! We’ll see who is protected and what’s affordable.

Normal Free...Pro Human Rights Thug...And liking it!

June 22nd, 2012
1:51 pm

When you think about it…if tsplost does pass and opens the way to the high speed rail projects that are supposed to go from Louisville through Atlanta, and Atlanta to Charlotte, and maybe bring back the Nancy Hanks to Savannah, it might bring back those great train songs of the day. Like this one…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CEUamp2xYo

Senior Citizen Kane

June 22nd, 2012
1:53 pm

Uh-oh, bad news for Gummint Motors. Every Chevy Cruz ever sold in the U.S. has been recalled.

Towncrier

June 22nd, 2012
1:56 pm

I guess what I am really not seeing (by implication, as with the creation of jobs) in the proposal is “citizen oversight”.

0311/8541/5811/1811/1801

June 22nd, 2012
1:56 pm

Normal Free…Pro Human Rights Thug…And liking it! :

Or ……………………….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BVgeEHfuG0

stands for decibels

June 22nd, 2012
1:57 pm

Every Chevy Cruz ever sold in the U.S. has been recalled.

oh noes. No car has ever been recalled before.

This is the end, beautiful friend, the end…

TaxPayer

June 22nd, 2012
1:57 pm

And remember folks, vote no to not voting against a 1 cent tax for nothing related to improving your transportation needs.

stands for decibels

June 22nd, 2012
1:58 pm

if you were wondering…

Owners will begin getting recall notices in mid-July. A fix of the problem will take about a half hour at a Chevrolet dealership, GM said.

Senior Citizen Kane

June 22nd, 2012
1:59 pm

stands for decibels

June 22nd, 2012
1:57 pm

Every Chevy Cruz ever sold in the U.S. has been recalled.

oh noes. No car has ever been recalled before.

This is the end, beautiful friend, the end…

Well, if they get in trouble they can always ask Saab for help.

Butch Cassidy

June 22nd, 2012
2:00 pm

Senior Citizen Kane – “Uh-oh, bad news for Gummint Motors. Every Chevy Cruz ever sold in the U.S. has been recalled.”

Yes, to replace an engine sheild. Let us know when the death talley gets high enough for us to care.

TaxPayer

June 22nd, 2012
2:00 pm

I would vote yes for MARTA rail running from Dahlonega to Columbus and from Six Flags to Savannah, etc.

Senior Citizen Kane

June 22nd, 2012
2:01 pm

A fix of the problem will take about a half hour at a Chevrolet dealership, GM said.

Good luck with that. Most dealerships can’t check your tire pressure in 30 minutes.

stands for decibels

June 22nd, 2012
2:02 pm

they can always ask Saab for help.

You mean tell a Saab story?

Butch Cassidy

June 22nd, 2012
2:03 pm

Senior Citizen Kane – “Most dealerships can’t check your tire pressure in 30 minutes.”

As long as your shopping for non talking points, Nissan just had a recall on the Juke not too long ago. You want us to quake in our boots for them as well?

Senior Citizen Kane

June 22nd, 2012
2:04 pm

You want us to quake in our boots for them as well?

No, they didn’t get any of my tax money.

Adam

June 22nd, 2012
2:05 pm

Scout: and if someone uses that same profanity say ………. in front of your wife and young daughter ?

Free speech. What am I supposed to do about that if I don’t like it. Westboro Baptist Church says a lot of nasty things when they picket military funerals. And they DO IT because they KNOW that if you do anything at all about it, they can sue you and win.

Doggone had it right: If your contract or work rules or whatever say you can’t be nude on TV or can’t be profane on TV, or if you have to sign something to that effect before you go on, that’s enforceable. But the FCC can’t blanket enforce network rules for it.

Butch Cassidy

June 22nd, 2012
2:05 pm

Senior Citizen Kane – No, they didn’t get any of my tax money.”

Exactly how much of YOUR tax money did GM get?

Keep Up the Good Fight!

June 22nd, 2012
2:05 pm

Oh my….my non-GM car has had 3 recalls….. I am sure you can blame Obama for that too. :lol:

Oscar

June 22nd, 2012
2:06 pm

Looks me like this is building more roads which will just lead to more sprawl. I plan to vote no.

j$

June 22nd, 2012
2:06 pm

Anonymous sources from MARTA report they are looking into building a direct line between Turner Field and Helen.

Adam

June 22nd, 2012
2:06 pm

You mean tell a Saab story?

WAH-WAHHHHH

stands for decibels

June 22nd, 2012
2:07 pm

Seriously, SC Kane. It’s an engine shield. It’s no biggie; a lot of people will probably ignore it.

On those rare occasions when I have set foot in an auto-dealership service department, I’m usually dazzled by the surroundings. (my indie mechanic is a no-frills, no-BS kind of guy; his waiting area’s the size of a walk-in closet.)

Senior Citizen Kane

June 22nd, 2012
2:07 pm

Oh my….my non-GM car has had 3 recalls….. I am sure you can blame Obama for that too.

No, I’d rather blame him for the $20 price of GM stock.

Jm-pass TSPLOST silly people

June 22nd, 2012
2:08 pm

Scout – the valid argument to me on voting no goes like this:

We elect people to go ahead and make these decisions and prioritize spending, and Georgians already pay enough in taxes

So if we elect a bunch of worthless rubes who can’t prioritize infrastructure spending, our problem

But all things considered, it would be good to have more infrastructure, so I’d vote yes in the end

I’d also vote to end the state income tax, butthat probably wont happen

GA republicans are generally worthless bums, just like their democrat brethren

massachusetts refugee 10.167.4.48

June 22nd, 2012
2:08 pm

vote no, unless you don’t mind your dollars lining politician’s pockets.

Adam

June 22nd, 2012
2:08 pm

Senior Citizen Kane

June 22nd, 2012
2:09 pm

Decibels, the recall is to prevent engine fires. I don’t think too many people will ignore it.

Butch Cassidy

June 22nd, 2012
2:11 pm

sfd – “Seriously, SC Kane. It’s an engine shield. It’s no biggie; a lot of people will probably ignore it.”

Apparently SC Kane is upset that approximately $21.42 of his tax dollars went toward the bailout. That’s at least a weeks supply of PBR, so I understand his anger.

Senior Citizen Kane

June 22nd, 2012
2:12 pm

Butch, $21.42 isn’t even close to a week’s supply of PBR for me.

Butch Cassidy

June 22nd, 2012
2:14 pm

SC Kane – “Butch, $21.42 isn’t even close to a week’s supply of PBR for me.”

LOL, I mispoke. for $21.42 you should be able to get at least a months supply.

Senior Citizen Kane

June 22nd, 2012
2:14 pm

But seriously folks….Recalls of this magnitude are never good for a company’s stock. They cost a lot of money. GM is already selling at $20 a share — it needs to be $51 for the taxpayers to break even. We should all be concerned. I actually want GM to succeed.

stands for decibels

June 22nd, 2012
2:15 pm

I’d also vote to end the state income tax, butthat

Well, I *wouldn’t*, d-bag.

0311/8541/5811/1811/1801

June 22nd, 2012
2:16 pm

Jm-pass TSPLOST silly people :

Some truth there.

Adam:

Political speech is free speech ………….. certain curse words are not. If you don’t believe me, go to the next Braves game, use certain curse words (the “F” word) in front of minors and see what happens.

P.S. If all else fails, I would hope you would at least get “in their face” and sucker them into throwing the first punch ……………… :o

stands for decibels

June 22nd, 2012
2:17 pm

sorry, Adam @ 2.08, I’d already gone this-a-way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFvxGdiMYwM

yuzeyurbrane

June 22nd, 2012
2:17 pm

Jay, do you realize you are taking the Tea Party position here?

HDB

June 22nd, 2012
2:17 pm

Most of the Chevy Cruzes are built OVERSEAS….and they only have ONE domestic plant…in Ohio!!

from wiki….

“Cruze production sites include Gunsan, Jeonbuk, South Korea;[12], Saint Petersburg, Russia;[13] Shenyang, China;[14] and Halol, India;[15] Hanoi, Vietnam since April 2010 in complete knock-down (CKD) form,[16][17] Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan from May 2010;[18] Rayong, Thailand after December 2010,[19], and São Caetano do Sul, Brazil from 2011.[20] Holden’s localized hatchback version of the Cruze to be built at the Elizabeth, South Australia factory from late 2011 will join the Cruze sedan manufactured there since March 2011.[21] GM in the United States has upgraded the existing plant in Lordstown, Ohio to manufacture the Cruze, investing more than US$350 million.”

Wonder how many were made overseas rather than being built here??

Sagegirl

June 22nd, 2012
2:17 pm

Just vote NO.

Joe Hussein Mama

June 22nd, 2012
2:18 pm

Adam — “Westboro Baptist Church says a lot of nasty things when they picket military funerals. And they DO IT because they KNOW that if you do anything at all about it, they can sue you and win.”

Sorry you and your family got wet, Mr. Phelps, but you just happened to show up on the day the sprinklers were scheduled to be running. Perhaps you’d like to reschedule your protest for a different day? :D

TaxPayer

June 22nd, 2012
2:18 pm

I didn’t care too much for bailing out AIG myself but even it was a drop in the bucket compared to the Bush waste in Iraq looking for WMDs. How much did those non-existent WMDs cost us taxpayers? Will we get payback in the form of cheaper oil from Exxon?

Mighty Righty

June 22nd, 2012
2:18 pm

The voters are not as stupid the T Splost proponents think. It will not pass. They can call a sewer hole a gold mine but most voters know a sewer hole when they see it.

USMC

June 22nd, 2012
2:19 pm

Obama’s Leftwing “Sexual Identity” fanatics in the White House… Give Ronnie the Finger! LOL!
(at least there is still humor to fall back on)

Activists Take Out Frustration on … Ronald Reagan
http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/activists-take-out-frustration-ronald-reagan_647733.html

LOTS OF CLASS! :-)

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

June 22nd, 2012
2:19 pm

Well, I say any fool that votes for this TSPLOST deserves to get flim-flammed. Giving politicians extra money to spend is like feeding dessert to a bunch of hogs. The hogs will love it and all you’ll get is extra crap to clean up. All I can be sure of right now is, you can bet this jm on here has something to gain from this boondoggle or he wouldn’t be pushing it so hard with his blog name.

And that’s all I got to say about that. Have a good p.m. everybody.

TaxPayer

June 22nd, 2012
2:20 pm

Jay, do you realize you are taking the Tea Party position here?

He must have done it in order to appease the cons and their complaints about Jay’s partisanship.

Adam

June 22nd, 2012
2:20 pm

If you don’t believe me, go to the next Braves game, use certain curse words (the “F” word) in front of minors and see what happens.

That’s not on TV, and not on private property.

0311/8541/5811/1811/1801

June 22nd, 2012
2:21 pm

Joe Hussein Mama @ 2:18

More than one way to skin a cat !

Mighty Righty

June 22nd, 2012
2:21 pm

Last Friday, an attaché of important gay people from Philadelphia made a trip to Washington D.C. as invited guests of President Barack Obama for the White House’s first-ever gay pride reception. There, they danced to the sounds of a Marine Corps band; they dined on crab cakes and canapés; they hand-delivered letters from concerned citizens like this 18-year old who has had four people close to him gunned down, and noted rhyming raconteur CA Conrad; and some of them took advantage of photo opportunities to give the late President Ronald Reagan the middle finger.

What a class group we have in the white house. Nice.

stands for decibels

June 22nd, 2012
2:21 pm

I don’t think too many people will ignore it.

Depends on how they word it. (hey, we’re on topic again!)

0311/8541/5811/1811/1801

June 22nd, 2012
2:22 pm

Adam:

True ………. I wasn’t arguing that. I was just meant not all words are free speech in all situations.

Thankgoodness the SCOTUS still has a little common sense left.

Towncrier

June 22nd, 2012
2:23 pm

Towncrier

June 22nd, 2012
2:25 pm

Towncrier

June 22nd, 2012
2:26 pm

the cat

June 22nd, 2012
2:26 pm

Good grief-the “story” about the folks at the WH giving Raygun the finger must be on Hannity, Rush or somewhere. Big Whoop. I did the same thing the last time I toured. Were you offended then?

USMC

June 22nd, 2012
2:27 pm

“Jay, do you realize you are taking the Tea Party position here?”–

I actually saw a Tea Party flag proudly planted in the front yard of a home in LITTLE 5 POINTS (Candler Park) of all places … might be rubbing off on Jay… LOL!

stands for decibels

June 22nd, 2012
2:27 pm

LOTS OF CLASS!

[...]

What a class group

[and from downstairs]

Now this is classy …

Shamelessly repeat talking points fed to me? I’m on it, Massuh Drudge!

carlosgvv

June 22nd, 2012
2:28 pm

Mr. B – 1:32

It’s called making a point by using a compairson. Don’t they teach you anything in your Christian Acadamy?

Mighty Righty

June 22nd, 2012
2:30 pm

California wants to build a mass transit high speed rail from where there are no people to where there are no people. Sounds perfect. Maybe the T Splost folks can get them to build it here.

USMC

June 22nd, 2012
2:31 pm

“Good grief-the “story” about the folks at the WH giving Raygun the finger must be on Hannity, Rush or somewhere. Big Whoop. I did the same thing the last time I toured. Were you offended then?”

Who cares what “show” it was “ON”… It happened, foolish one. that’s the point.
It shows a real lack of class which we have come to expect in Today’s Socialist/DemocRat Party.

Towncrier

June 22nd, 2012
2:31 pm

JamVet

June 22nd, 2012
2:31 pm

Speaking of classless POSes, Fred Phelps is the kind of arch-conservative “Christian” that our arch-conservative “Christians” here relate to…

stands for decibels

June 22nd, 2012
2:32 pm

Don’t they teach you anything in your Christian Acadamy?

Carlos, you feeling ok?

You’ve been snapping out at just about anyone who gently ribs you these past coupla days, is the reason I ask.

Butch Cassidy

June 22nd, 2012
2:33 pm

MIghty Righty – “California wants to build a mass transit high speed rail from where there are no people to where there are no people. Sounds perfect. Maybe the T Splost folks can get them to build it here.”

Yeah, it was from Barstow to Las Vegas. I’m not sure how old you are, but there are slightly more than “no people” in both cities. I don’t support the project myself, but you sir, are off the deep end.

the cat

June 22nd, 2012
2:33 pm

USMC-it never ceases to amaze me when a story is repeated over and over and over by the same delusional ones and then they are so PROUD to post the link! Woohoo! Get out much???

TaxPayer

June 22nd, 2012
2:34 pm

USMC would never give Obama the finger because that would demonstrate a lack of class. :smile:

stands for decibels

June 22nd, 2012
2:34 pm

It happened, foolish one.

It probably happens every frickin’ day, to every portrait, super-geniusy-one.

(Except Taft. Everyone pities ol’ Fatso.)