OUR VIEW: Sad that very few participated in E-SPLOST vote

Published 9:30 am Thursday, March 18, 2021

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The voter turnout in Tuesday’s special E-SPLOST election was abysmal, perhaps even embarrassing. It was easy to see coming, especially when early turnout was only around 1300 votes, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t all be concerned as a community.

E-SPLOST is sort of viewed as old news by some in Troup County.

This is the sixth approved E-SPLOST, and the one-penny sales tax is something all of us are fairly used to by now.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s a formality to continue, and there was $81 million in potential projects on the line for the Troup County School System.

Only 7.5 percent of registered voters in Troup County participated in Tuesday night’s election. E-SPLOST was approved by a fairly large amount, but it’s probably unfair to say that the majority of registered voters in Troup County support it. While we think that’s probably the case, the truth is that roughly 93 percent of people stayed home and chose not to vote in this election, and we have no clue how they would’ve voted.

It’s a shame that so few participated, and we’re not sure the reason.

Maybe people believe E-SPLOST is a formality. Maybe it’s voter fatigue, as Georgia has had more elections than just about anyone over the last year.

Going back to primaries during the spring, a state court judge run-off in August, the presidential election in November and the Senate run-offs in January, it’s easy to see why people would be tired of elections in general.

But even the state court judge race, which like E-SPLOST was the only thing on the ballot, had only a 12.7 percent voter turnout.

We understand the argument that this election could’ve been placed at a better time, such as part of an upcoming election this fall. We think it’s fair to say that. At the end of the day, the school system wanted more time and the election fell where it did.

If you want to get a lot of opinions on any general topic in our community, just ask about schools.

For instance, if we posted on social media right now asking for opinions on upcoming projects for the school system, we could easily see that discussion getting hundreds, if not thousands of comments.

However, when it came time to actually vote in an election that has a real bearing on future school system projects and technology, security and school building upgrades for our students, only 7 in every 100 registered voters took time over a three-week period to cast a ballot.

In a country where the biggest topic has been elections over the last few months, that’s alarming and sad. We’re glad that E-SPLOST passed and believe it’s in the best interest of our school system and its students moving forward — something we wrote pre-election — but we’re dismayed by the voter turnout.

We’re thankful for those who took the time to vote, but in reality this election was decided by the 93 percent of people who stayed home and didn’t cast a ballot.