Critics say 15 words on a statewide transportation tax referendum could trick voters into saying yes.
A sample ballot obtained by Channel 2 political reporter Lori Geary states Referendum 1 “provides for local transportation projects to create jobs and reduce traffic congestion with citizen oversight."
The 1-cent sales tax would collect $6 billion to fund a list of transportation and transit projects over the next decade with an additional $1 billion going to local governments. Ten metro Atlanta counties are being asked to approve the measure, with other regions across the state voting on their own tax and construction projects.
Attorney Pitts Carr has been hired by opponents of the referendum to find out how that language got on the ballot when it was not part of the original law. The wording was approved by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
"I've researched the law as carefully as I can and I don't see how the secretary of state has the authority to put this sort of advocacy language in front of a referendum," Carr told Geary.
“Create jobs? Stop congestion? Who wouldn't vote for that?" Carr added.
Kemp would not speak to Geary on camera but his office released a statement that said, “Should Mr. Carr and his clients move forward with legal action, we look forward to defending our position in court." Kemp’s office added that they reached out to regional roundtables for the wording.
Channel 2 Action News political analyst Bill Crane said it is clear most state leaders, including Gov. Nathan Deal, are pushing for the sales tax.
"If you can't win the argument on its merits you shouldn't need to resort to tactics that are questionable to win the argument," Crane said “That doesn't give permission to stack the deck. That doesn't give permission to be disingenuous about the ballot question."
Carr said Georgia law is clear and allows for state leaders to add language when there is a Constitutional amendment but it makes no mention of a referendum.