Nonbinding Party Platform Questions Appear On State Primary Ballots In Georgia, South Carolina, And Texas
Ballotpedia has tracked nonbinding political party platform advisory questions in three states—Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas. Democratic and Republican parties have placed these questions on statewide ballots to gauge voters’ support for various policy proposals. All three states have open primaries, meaning ​​that voters do not have to formally affiliate with a political party in advance to vote in its primary.
The number of nonbinding questions featured on a state primary ballot ranged from two in South Carolina (Republican ballots in 2014) to 13 in Georgia (Republican ballots in 2022) and Texas (Republican ballots in 2024).
The following are some examples of party questions. Georgia Republicans voted on advisory questions in July 1996, June 2020, and May 2022. Georgia Democrats voted on advisory questions in May 2014, as well as in 2020 and 2022. Both parties in South Carolina placed advisory questions on the ballot in June 2014, and the South Carolina Republican Party placed questions on the primary 2024 ballot. In Texas, the Republican Party has placed questions on every state primary ballot from 2020 to 2024. Texas Democrats placed questions on the 2020 primary ballot.
All questions were approved, except for two proposed by Georgia Republicans in 2020 and 2022. In 2020, 51.78% of Georgia Republican voters defeated a question proposing to make the Republican primary a closed primary. In 2022, 96.30% of Georgia Republican voters voted “No” in response to “Should schools in Georgia allow biological males to compete in female sports?”
Democratic Party advisory questions were state-specific in 2014 and became more national in recent elections. For example, in South Carolina in 2014, questions addressed state regulation of online gaming and medical marijuana. In Georgia in 2014, Democrats decided on questions related to the state minimum wage, federal funding for state expansion of Medicaid, creating a state ethics commission, and the state education budget. In more recent elections, Democrats voted on questions related to student loan forgiveness, free public preschool, voter policies, incentivizing renewable energy sources, and recreational marijuana.
Republicans have similarly expanded the topics addressed by political party advisory questions since 1996—the first example of political party questions in Georgia Ballotpedia tracked. The issues included in 1996 were parental rights over education, punishments for crimes, and limiting state spending or taxes. More recent Republican questions address protections for born and pre-born persons, immigration, free speech on social media, transgender policies in schools and sports, the right to refuse vaccines, and election administration.
On Feb. 24, 2024, South Carolina Republicans will decide on three questions related to voter registration, oversight of the state judiciary, and changes to awarding financial damages from litigation.
On March 5, 2024, Texas Republicans will decide on 13 questions related to eliminating property taxes, immigration, the right to refuse a vaccine, allowing only Republicans to vote in the primary, parental rights over their children’s education, proof of citizenship to vote, and a ban on selling Texas land to Chinese, Iranian, North Korean, and Russian nationals or corporations.
Produced in association with Ballotpedia
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