officials are happy Cobb County voters approved the of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax on Tuesday.
“We're pleased that it passed,” City Manager Brian Bulthuis said, “so we can complete some that are extremely necessary.”
Cobb County’s SPLOST election was decided by less than one-fifth of 1 percent of the votes cast, but that’s not close enough to trigger an automatic recount of the results.
Georgia law does not provide for automatic recounts of ballot questions, no matter how narrow the margin, Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler said Wednesday.
Mars Hill 1
Wade Green 1
1,18348.78Results are unofficial but complete and come from the Board of Elections & Registration.
The single-issue special election approved four more years of the 1 percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for transportation, recreation, public safety and related capital projects. Based on complete but unofficial results, 42,971 people voted in the election: 21,525 for the SPLOST and 21,446 against, a difference of 79 votes.
Acworth-area precincts provided 59 votes of the 79-vote margin.
The countywide results included 5,642 votes that were cast early in person and 1,007 mail-in absentee ballots. That means 93 absentee ballots that were requested and mailed out were not returned by Tuesday evening’s deadline.
In addition, voters cast 58 provisional ballots. Registrars, who are county employees, must determine by 5 p.m. Friday whether to count those ballots, but while they could make the election even closer, they won’t be enough to reverse the result.
Acworth was slightly more supportive and slightly less interested than the county as a whole.
The "yes" votes carried the polling places serving the city and nearby areas, 1,242 to 1,183, giving the SPLOST 51.22 percent of the local vote. Including seven votes that were not counted for either side, according to number provided by the county Board of Elections & Registration, 8.59 percent of active registered voters at 10 local precincts voted, compared with about 10.8 percent of the electorate as a whole, although the Acworth figures don't include those who voted early or absentee.
Still, Bulthuis said citizen complaints led directly to the city projects that will receive SPLOST money.
“We've had a lot of complaints about the toilet facilities at , which will now be fixed,” he said. Another area of concern for people is the intersection of Mars Hill Road and U.S. 41, now slated for improvements.
“All of these projects are exciting and have different improvements in mind,” Bulthuis said. “The community realized that in order for improvements and repairs to be made, it has to be paid for some way.”
Among the projects that will receive SPLOST funding is the construction of a $4.75 million police headquarters. Police Chief Michael Wilkie, who spoke about the specifications of the new location in a , was happy the vote went the SPLOST's way.
“I'm quite pleased that the people put their trust in the government's hands,” he said. Wilkie said the new building will allow the to better serve the citizenry.
“The people of Acworth will be able to see with their own eyes the improvements we're going to make to make the Police Department more able to serve them,” he said.
Mayor Tommy Allegood Wednesday morning on Acworth Patch.
"This is great news for the citizens in Acworth because we will be able to add additional downtown parking, make some needed road improvements, build a new police station, build silent railroad crossings and improve traffic flow on Highway 41 and the Mars Hill intersection," he wrote.
The city can move ahead once the election becomes official.
Cobb's five-member Board of Elections & Registration will meet Monday morning at 8 at the elections office, 736 Whitlock Ave. in west Marietta, to certify the results as official. Eveler said the board may instead order an investigation if it suspects an error or discrepancy in the tally.
After certification, anyone who was eligible to vote Tuesday may contest the election within five days on the basis of at least one of three grounds listed in Title 21, Chapter 2, Article 13 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated:
- “Misconduct, fraud, or irregularity by any primary or election official or officials sufficient to change or place in doubt the result.”
- “When illegal votes have been received or legal votes rejected at the polls sufficient to change or place in doubt the result.”
- “For any error in counting the votes or declaring the result of the primary or election, if such error would change the result.”
A petition contesting the election must be filed with the clerk of Superior Court.
Regardless of Tuesday’s results, Eveler said the election went smoothly. “It was a very successful night for us.”
Rob Garcia, one of the five members of the election board, said Wednesday evening that he expects the board to certify the election according to the law. Garcia noted that state law does not call for an automatic recall and the number of provisional votes, even if all were cast “No,” would not exceed the total margin between the votes.
“There is no need to go through the cost and expense and hassle of a recount,” Garcia said. “I was there until midnight and there were no irregularities … everything was done perfectly.”