July 15th, 2011
06:15 PM ET
By Phil Gast, CNN
Atlanta (CNN) – Confusion over whether the motto "In God We Trust" might appear on Georgia's new license plate prompted officials to announce Friday another round of online voting in which citizens can endorse their favorite design.
The brouhaha began after the state posted eight semifinalist designs selected by art school faculty. Three of the entries provided by those who submitted designs included the "In God We Trust" decal, which Georgians have the option of buying for $1. Two plates included the names of counties, and three had no label.
Many voters apparently believed that the motto was not an option and would appear on the Georgia plate if one of those three designs were selected.
"It was a misconception that it was an integral part of the license plate design," said Timothy Mitchell, assistant director of the Georgia Department of Revenue's Tax Law & Policy Office.
The vote page had nothing to indicate that the motto and county names were included to show how the winning plate might appear.
Voters picked the three designs with "In God We Trust" as the finalists. The motto would be placed where the county name normally appears.
"It was obvious people were voting for or against things that are not going to be part of the tag," said Brian Robinson, deputy chief of staff for communications for Gov. Nathan Deal. The voting redo stems "from a deep sense of fairness to artists and the public."
About 400,000 people took part in the initial voting.
Deal, who was supposed to announce the winning design Friday, instead announced the new voting, which begins Monday and will last three weeks. The eight designs will be back on the website, sans the motto or county names.
Hemant Mehta, who operates the Friendly Atheist website, wrote Friday, "Kudos to state officials for correcting their own mistake, although they could've done it a long time ago and saved the state a lot of unnecessary hassle."
Deal and the state's lieutenant governor and revenue commissioner will make the final design selection.
About 100,000 Georgians have purchased the "In God We Trust" label since it went on sale, Mitchell said.
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