By David Hancock
From June 24 to July 8, 2011 Georgians were given the opportunity to vote online for a new license plate design. Web visitors were presented with 8 designs in the order shown HERE.
The three "In God We Trust" designs came in first, second and third and together received more than twice as many votes as the five other plates combined. In fact the winner of the first round (click HERE) had more votes by itself than all the motto-free plates added together. The second round of voting, with the same background images but where none of the plates had the motto, ran from July 18 to August 8. Although four and a half times as many people voted in the first round (412,098 vs 90,981) the State decided to take the results of the second vote. The State maintains that people were confused over by the words "In God We Trust," and that the motto influenced their voting. It appears it did. In fact, one of the plates came in third when it had the motto and seventh when it did not (you can see the final vote counts at the end of this article).
The text for the first vote web page did not mention that the motto was an optional label. Here are the original instructions:
THANK YOU for taking part in the selection of the new Georgia general issue license plate design. The winning design will be displayed on millions of vehicles in Georgia and wherever Georgia vehicles travel nationwide. Online voting begins June 24, 2011 and ends July 8, 2011.
The winning design will be announced July 15, 2011 by Governor Nathan Deal, Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and State Revenue Commissioner Douglas MacGinnitie.
Please use your mouse/cursor to select your choice of License Plate Design and click on "Vote 4 Me."
"In God We Trust" was, by all appearances, part of the design of the three winning plates, but it was an element that the State decided to ignore. If the state was truly looking for what the taxpayers wanted they had a clear winner after the first round of voting. Instead they now present Georgia with a blank plate and an option to pay an extra dollar (ironically, a dollar with the words "In God We Trust" on it) to add "In God We Trust" to the plate.
Why not make the standard plate say "In God We Trust" and then let people pay $1 if they don't want these words on their car? Driving around 285, being passed by cars doing 70 mph, do you really want God to know that you didn't want His name on your license plate?
Honestly I am a little surprised that the State was able to just sweep this under the rug as easily as they did. I guess there are two schools of thought. Give the people what they want or give the people what will make the State more money. But don't give the people a chance to vote for something if you are just going to ignore the results.
Note 1: "In God We Trust" was adopted as the official motto of the United States in 1956