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Turnout sporadic in first week of early voting for Hall County SPLOST
Weather blamed for limited ballots cast; Election Day set for March 17
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Troy Danner casts his ballot Friday morning at the Hall County Elections office during early voting on SPLOST VII. Voting will continue the next two weeks, with Election Day set for March 17.

SPLOST vote

Early voting: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, through March 13

Where: Hall County Elections Office, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville

Election Day: March 17

More info: Hall County Elections Office website 

Turnout during the first week of early voting on a new round of special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST VII, was sporadic, with snowy weather and government closings likely limiting the number who showed up to the polls.

Between Monday and Thursday, just 241 voters had cast ballots, while 45 absentee ballots had been mailed, according to Hall County Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee.

Another 72 voters rolled through on Friday, while an additional 17 absentee ballots were mailed.

Turnout has been poor in recent SPLOST votes.

In 2009, for example, just 9.3 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the SPLOST VI election. Only 7,565 votes were cast among 81,307 total voters.

An E-SPLOST to fund education was approved in 2011, but turnout was just 8.3 percent, or 6,757 of 81,360 registered voters.

Close to two-thirds of voters approved SPLOST VI, but SPLOST VII is perhaps the most controversial of all local sales tax measures, and may end up being decided by a much smaller margin.

The latest revenue projection for SPLOST VII is $158 million over five years. The 1 percent sales tax would take effect July 1 and revenues are distributed based on 2010 Census figures.

Early voting continues through March 13 at the Elections Office. The referendum will conclude on March 17, with precincts open all over the county for voting.

Money from SPLOST has been spent on everything from road improvements and public works projects to libraries and parks to public safety operations and building construction.

SPLOST money cannot, however, be spent on maintenance and operations costs, meaning these expenses will fall on the general fund and other revenue streams in the budget.

Troy Danner, a Flowery Branch resident, said he voted Friday in support of SPLOST VII because he sees specific needs in South Hall, such as the widening of Spout Springs Road.

“Generally, I vote no on any tax increase, but this time I said yes,” he said, adding that a sales tax hike is better than a property tax increase.

But an elderly gentleman who did not give his name summed up the opposition’s feeling.

“I’m against it, I’ll put it that way,” he said.

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