Perdue announces change in flag referendum

By JIM GALLOWAY, Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer

Gov. Sonny Perdue today confirmed revisions to his proposal for a referendum on the state flag.

The referendum no longer would force people to vote on two, linked questions, including one that mandated voters to choose between two flags with Confederate legacies, the governor said through a spokeswoman.

But otherwise, the structure would remain the same.

First, a voter would be asked to vote yes or no on the current state flag with its blue field. As a second choice, voters still would be asked to choose between the 1956 state flag, with its Confederate battle emblem or St. Andrews cross, and the "stars and bars" flag that flew over the state Capitol before 1956.

However, voters could skip either question.

Several prominent black leaders, including Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, had protested the fact that the referendum required voters to answer both questions.

Capitol insiders said that unlinking the two questions actually would make it more likely that the 1956 flag with the prominent Confederate battle emblem could win a referendum, if Perdue’s proposal is passed by the Legislature as written.

State Rep. Tyrone Brooks (D-Atlanta) said Perdue’s revision will make no difference to him. Brooks said he and other civil-rights leaders would continue to recommend a boycott of any vote that includes the Confederate battle emblem as a choice.

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