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Dems largely united in straw poll questions

COVINGTON — Democrats across the state of Georgia not only had a chance to vote for their favored candidate during Tuesday’s Primary Election, but they also were able to give their opinion on a number of topics about the minimum wage, education funding and Medicaid funding.

All in all, Newton County voters’ preferences tracked with those of Democrats across the state, according to the poll results from the Secretary of State’s Office.

The first straw poll question on Tuesday’s ballot asked voters if the state’s minimum wage should be increased above the current $5.15 an hour.

Overwhelmingly, Democrats answered “yes” to this question, with 96.54 percent of Newton County Democrats and 94.54 percent across the state voting in favor.

Locally, Democrats were asked to take that a step further and respond whether the minimum wage should be more than doubled and raised to $10.50 an hour and increase with inflation.

While still largely in favor of a hike in the minimum wage, about 10 percent of Newton County Democrats answered “no” to this question.

Education was another topic voters were asked to weigh in on. Across the state, Democrats were asked if the Constitution of Georgia should be amended to make the education budget Georgia’s first funding priority?

Statewide, 85 percent of voters selected “yes” and in Newton County, nearly 90 percent agreed.

However, the number grew slightly more when local Democrats were asked if funding for public education at every level be a top priority in Georgia. Almost 95 percent of local voters answered “yes” and only 5 percent disagreed.

The preferences of voters in Newton County matched those of Democrats across Georgia with regard to expanding Medicaid and the establishment of an independent ethics commission. Locally, 89.71 percent of voters said that the state’s federal tax dollars should be returned to Georgia to fund Medicaid expansion and relieve the indigent care burden on our hospitals and almost 88 percent of voters agreed across the state.

Likewise, more than 84 percent of Democrats – both in Newton County and the state at large – agreed that the Constitution of Georgia be amended to create an independent ethics commission that is not tied to the Governor’s office, legislature or other elected office, to more effectively police potential ethics violations by elected officials.

Local Democrats were also asked to answer some additional straw poll questions on their ballots during the Primary Election. For instance, nearly 92 percent of Newton County Democratic voters said no to the question whether state law should allow guns to be carried into churches and schools by private individuals.

Voters were more evenly divided, however, over whether the state should eliminate entitlements and tax exemptions for corporations and individuals with income over $250,000 per year. 65.1 percent of Newton County Democrats said “yes,” while almost 35 percent said no.

Questions about elections also brought more varied responses.

Just over 55.5 percent of voters said that election days for local, state and federal offices should be national holidays while 44 percent disagreed.

Implementing same-day-as-voting voter registration carried a slightly stronger majority with 65.64 percent saying they would favor that as opposed to 34.36 who said they would not favor that option.

Expanding early voting to a minimum of 30 days and including at least three Saturdays was a popular option for many, with 88.27 voting yes and 11.73 voting no.

The following are the Democratic straw poll questions included on the ballots, along with the votes cast in Newton County and statewide:

• Should Georgia raise the state minimum wage above the current $5.15 an hour?

Yes – 96.54 percent (4,073 votes); statewide – 94.54 percent

No – 3.46 percent (146 votes) – 5.46 percent

• Should Georgians’ federal tax dollars be returned to Georgia to fund Medicaid expansion and relive the indigent care burden on our hospitals?

Yes – 89.71 percent (3,730 votes); statewide – 87.64 percent

No – 10.29 percent (428 votes); statewide – 12.36 percent

• Should the Constitution of Georgia be amended to create an independent ethics commission, not tied to the Governor’s office, legislature or other elected office, to more effectively police potential ethics violations by elected officials?

Yes – 84.85 percent (3,410 votes); statewide - 84.03 percent

No – 15.15 percent (609 votes); statewide – 15.97 percent

• Should the Constitution of Georgia be amended to make the education budget Georgia’s first funding priority?

Yes – 89.08 percent (3,637 votes); statewide - 85.53 percent

No – 10.92 percent (446 votes); statewide – 14.47 percent

• Should funding for public education at every level be a top priority in Georgia?

Yes – 94.71 percent (3,922 votes)

No – 5.29 percent (219 votes)

• Should the minimum wage in Georgia be $10.50 and increase with inflation?

Yes – 89.80 percent (3,770 votes)

No – 10.2 percent (428 votes)

• Should Georgia expand Medicaid coverage for the more than 600,000 people cut off by Governor Deal?

Yes – 88.52 percent (3,679 votes)

No – 11.48 percent (477 votes)

• Should Georgia law allow guns to be carried into churches and schools by private individuals?

Yes – 8.10 percent (340 votes)

No – 91.90 percent (3,856 votes)

• Should the state of Georgia eliminate entitlements and tax exemptions for corporations and individuals with income over $250,000 per year?

Yes – 65.10 percent (2,641 votes)

No – 34.9 percent (1,416 votes)

• Should election days for local, state and federal offices be made a national holiday?

Yes – 55.57 percent (2,296 votes)

No – 44.43 percent (1,836 votes)

• Should early voting be for a minimum of 30 days and include at least three Saturdays?

Yes – 88.27 percent (3,650 votes)

No – 11.73 percent (485 votes)

• Should same-day-as-voting voter registration be the law in Georgia?

Yes – 65.64 percent (2,633 votes)

No – 34.36 percent (1,378 votes)