Special election early voting numbers are low

Posted By | September 6, 2019 8:14 am

By Rachel Auberger

A special election is taking place for City of Sparta residents that will determine whether or not there will be a sales tax increase, but not many people have participated in the early voting.

According to Dorcas Marcum, administrator of elections, there are approximately 2,600 registered voters in the city of Sparta, but, as of Sept. 4, only 170 people had participated in this special election.

“I don’t think it is completely uncommon for numbers to be lower in a stand-alone election like this, but these numbers are really low,”

Marcum said, also stating the election is available to City of Sparta residents and individuals who own property in the City of Sparta and does not include properties in the county,

On Aug. 29, twenty-nine registered voters chose to cast their votes on whether the City of Sparta would see a sales tax increase this year. While that was the highest single-day participation, Sept. 3 had the lowest single-day participation, with just seven voters. While most of the voters have been in-person city residents, there have been a small number of mail-in absentee ballots come through the election office as well as a few non-resident property owners participating.

“This is a majority vote, so regardless of the number of participants, a decision will be made based on whether the majority of that number – no matter how small or large – wants the increase or doesn’t want it, Marcum said.

The last time a referendum for a sales tax increase was on the ballot was 1984. During the May 1984 election, the referendum failed, but in November 1984, the referendum passed and resulted in a three-fourths of a percent increase in sales tax.

“This is the first time since I have been in office that there has been a sales tax referendum on a ballot by itself,” Marcum said, who took office in 2009.

Early voting will continue through Sept. 7. Thursday hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m., with Friday hours being 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m.-noon.

The final opportunity to cast your vote for the sales tax referendum will be Sept. 12 when residents of Sparta can cast their votes between 8 a.m.-7 p.m. District 1 will vote at Sparta Civic Center and District 2 will vote at the White County Agricultural Complex.

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