Turnout for Tuesday’s SPLOST vote was low— only 9 percent of voters decided the fate of the countywide sales tax.
“Georgia historically has a really low voter turnout,” said University of Georgia demographer Douglas Bachtel. “It’s scary that just a few of those folks can control the polls.”
A little more than 62 percent of the 7,525 who cast ballots in the special election voted to extend the 1 percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for another six years.
SPLOST VI will start when the current SPLOST V ends, June 30. It will be collected through June 2015 and is targeted to raise $240 million.
While many individual precincts reflected the overall results, there was regional variation.
Two precincts in East Hall — Glade and Tadmore — had a much closer election. Of the 172 votes counted at Tadmore, 51.16 percent voted yes, while 48.84 percent voted no. Ninety-one votes were tallied at Glade with nearly identical results.
In the North Hall precinct of Murrayville, the vote was a 50-50 draw.
Only two precincts recorded more votes against SPLOST than for it.
At the Gillsville precinct, also in East Hall and adjacent to the Glade and Tadmore precincts, 35 people voted for the SPLOST and 49 voted against it.
Gillsville had the highest percentage of “no” votes at 58.33 percent.
Gillsville is among the municipalities slated to get the lowest amounts of the sales tax revenue. Gillsville would get $240,000, using $40,000 for road improvements and the rest for community park upgrades and downtown improvements.
Only two towns are slated to get less revenue from SPLOST VI: Buford is allotted $141,000 and Braselton is allotted only $32,000.
Results in all of the South Hall precincts, where Buford and Braselton are located, mirrored the 62 percent favorable vote across Hall County.
The Gainesville Mill precinct was a ghost town on election day, with just four ballots cast in favor of SPLOST and five against it.
Bachtel said it’s difficult to draw conclusions about why a few precincts voted a certain way.
“Those low numbers, it’s just so capricious,” Bachtel said. “There’s no way nine (votes) could be representative of the whole area,” Bachtel said
Bachtel also said voters, especially those who come out for special elections, tend to be different than the general population.
They are typically older, more affluent and more civic-minded than their neighbors.
Bachtel speculated that there was likely a concentration of such voters in the West Whelchel precinct, where 71 percent of the 690 voters cast their ballots in support of SPLOST.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the amounts of money that will be given to Braselton and to Buford.