Author: Lori Glenn Publication Date: 2005-02-09

MOULTRIE — The state flag issue is rising again today at the Georgia dome. Flaggers plan to present poll findings indicating that most Georgian want a chance to vote on the 1956 flag that bears the Confederate battle emblem that was changed in 2001.

On Jan. 25, the Georgia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) commissioned a statewide poll. A total of 625 registered voters were interviewed statewide in January by telephone by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. of Washington, D.C. The sampling size of the poll provides a margin of error of 4 percent.

All respondents stated that they vote regularly in state elections, SCV spokesmen said. Those interviewed were selected from a randomly generated telephone sample drawn from a complete list of registered Georgia voters. Quotas were assigned to reflect voter turn-out by county.

The poll indicated 79 percent want another referendum to choose between the current flag and the 1956 flag. Forty-seven percent said they would vote for the current flag, while 40 percent would support the 1956 flag. Thirteen percent remain undecided, the poll said.

“What it boils down to is the only place we have that much opposition is in the Fulton/Dekalb area, and they don’t run Georgia despite what they think,” said Moultrian Jack Bridwell, Commander of the Georgia Division SCV.

Bridwell will speak at the capitol along with cosponsors of the Georgia Flag FAIR Vote Bill, H.B. 15, which was prefiled in November.

“We’ve commissioned the poll to see what the people of Georgia felt about it,” he said. “A lot of support is there, if we can get it out of committee.”

The bill sits in the Governmental Affairs Committee — of which Tifton Republican Rep. Austin Scott is chairman. SCV and other special interest groups believe Scott has always opposed a vote on the 1956 flag and will block committee passage, Bridwell said.

“I don’t know what the governor’s feelings are,” Bridwell said. “He’s seen the poll. I’ve put it in his hand myself. He is concerned that that many people in Georgia feel disenfranchised by not being able to vote. He realizes that some of the people who feel disenfranchised are some of the very same people who voted to put him in office when he won the governor’s seat. A lot of them unless they have the opportunity to vote on this flag will not support him or vote for him in this next election.”

The SCV is willing to let the people decide which flag to fly, even if it means the battle emblem is history once and for all.

“If the ’56 flag wins, great. If the present flag wins, we can accept that,” Bridwell said. “We can live with it. It’s just that we feel — and the majority of people in Georgia apparently feel — that we should have a fair vote and get it behind us and go on.”

Copyright 2004 South Georgia Media Group

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