In this July 9, 2012, photograph made using a long exposure, traffic moves along Interstate 75 against the downtown skyline in Atlanta. When Georgia voters head to the polls on July 31, some of the state's political and business leaders claim they will be deciding no less than the future of the region for decades to come. Among the most contested races on the primary ballot is a transportation infrastructure referendum that would create a penny sales tax in 12 districts across the state, potentially raising billions of dollars to fund hundreds of projects over the next 10 years. But transportation has proven a controversial candidate, and the issue could be a hard sell in the weeks leading up to the election.

Once Georgia voters get past the Clinton-Trump presidential showdown at the top of the ballot Tuesday, they still have plenty of races to settle — from picking a new congressman in west Georgia to deciding whether to impose a special tax on strip clubs.

Voters will decide whether U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican who's held various offices in Georgia since 1977, deserves a third term.

Further down the ballot, eight U.S. House incumbents face opposition, and there's a contested race to fill the seat of a retiring GOP congressman. There are also four amendments to Georgia's constitution to consider.

Here is a look at key down-ballot races across the state on Election Day.



Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland is leaving Congress after six terms. West Georgia voters in the 3rd District seat have to elect his replacement.

The advantage goes to GOP candidate Drew Ferguson, a dentist and former mayor of West Point. The district was drawn to favor Republicans, and Westmoreland won his last contested campaign with 69.5 percent of the vote in 2010.

Ferguson's opponent, Democrat Angela Pendley of Grantville, reported raising no cash for the race. Ferguson raised more than $1.1 million.



Eight of Georgia's incumbent congressmen are facing opposition, though upsets appear unlikely.

Democrats signed up to challenge Republican Reps. Tom Price of Roswell, Rob Woodall of Lawrenceville, Austin Scott of Tifton, Barry Loudermilk of Cassville and Rick Allen of Augusta. All of the incumbents represent districts drawn to favor GOP candidates, and none of their challengers raised much money to put up a fight.

Likewise, Democratic Reps. Sanford Bishop of Columbus, Hank Johnson of Lithonia and John Lewis of Atlanta all face Republican opponents in districts generally considered safe for Democrats.



Two state lawmakers who won special elections last year to fill vacancies in the Legislature are back on the ballot.

State Rep. Taylor Bennett is trying to keep metro Atlanta's 80th District in Democratic hands in a race with Republican Meagan Hanson. The GOP previously held the seat. Similarly, Republican state Sen. JaNice Van Ness hopes to defend her 43rd District seat in metro Atlanta, which was vacated by a Democrat last year. Van Ness faces Democrat Tonya Anderson.

In a controversial south Georgia state House race, Democrats have put their hopes in an independent candidate to topple a Republican incumbent. GOP Rep. Gerald Greene faces the Rev. Kenneth Zachary in the 151st District. Zachary was recruited to run as an independent after Democrat James Williams was told he lived outside the district and was disqualified.



An amendment to Georgia's constitution that would empower the state to take over low-performing schools has placed Gov. Nathan Deal in a battle with teacher unions and parent-teacher associations.

The proposal would allow an appointed superintendent accountable to the governor to place failing schools in an "opportunity school district" and convert them into charter schools, overhaul management or close them.

Deal says the amendment would help children trapped in schools that have consistently failed to meet standards. Groups including the Georgia Association of Educators and the Georgia PTA say it would usurp local control of those schools.



Another amendment would dismantle the state's independent judicial watchdog agency, letting state lawmakers recreate the agency and exert control over it.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission was created in 1972 to investigate and resolve complaints of ethical misconduct by judges. In the past decade, the commission's actions have resulted in more than 60 judges leaving the bench. They include judges accused of sexual harassment and one who pointed a gun at people in court.

Amendment supporters say the commission's independence has enabled it to force out judges without due process. Lester Tate, a former commission chairman, says the proposal is politically motivated and would let judges facing complaints seek favors from their legislators.



An amendment to increase penalties for human trafficking crimes would also impose a new tax on strip clubs and other adult entertainment businesses. The money would help pay for care for child victims of sexual exploitation.

Another proposed amendment would dedicate the existing 5 percent sales tax on fireworks to funding trauma care at hospitals, firefighter equipment and training and other public safety efforts.