By a razor-thin margin, Cobb County voters on Tuesday approved a four-year, $492 million referendum that will extend the current Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax to pay for a wide range of transportation, facilities, public safety and parks and recreational improvements.
But the vote might be heading for a recount.
Final unofficial results tabulated by the Cobb Board of Elections showed that 21,525 votes were cast in favor of the SPLOST, or 50.09 percent of the vote, and 21,446 votes were opposed, or 49.91 percent, with all 153 Cobb precincts reporting. Those numbers include absentee ballots and the results of early voting.
That's a difference of 79 votes, and typified the tight results that swung in either direction several times during the vote-counting Tuesday night.
That margin of 0.18 percent was even closer than the September 2005 election that enacted the current Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax by a comparatively easy 114 votes.
There’s no reason to think that the fierce battled waged between advocates and opponents of the SPLOST extension has come to an end.
As questions arose during the night about recounts of the paper absentee ballots and recanvasses of the electronic votes, Cobb County officials didn’t have the answers yet.
The “current goal is getting an accurate count of the votes cast,” Cobb government spokesman Robert Quigley said in an e-mail at 9:50 p.m. “We will focus on the next steps once we complete the task at hand.”
Quigley said the elections board’s attorney should be able to provide answers Wednesday about what happens next.
The vote lead went back and forth between approval and rejection from the time the first numbers came out around 7:30 until the final numbers arrived three hours later.
While the sales tax held the lead most of the night, the “no” side moved ahead by 56 votes in the second-to-last release of vote totals from the Cobb County Board of Elections & Registration. But the final six precincts reversed the result and pushed the SPLOST to the unofficial victory.
That excitement came after a day featuring light turnout across Cobb. Less than 11 percent of the active registered electorate of 392,589 voted in an election with only one issue: whether to extend the SPLOST for four more years.
An estimated of the new SPLOST will be spent on projects in East Cobb. The current SPLOST is set to expire at the end of this year.
Cobb County SPLOST Referendum Results153 of 153 precincts reporting Yes No Should Cobb County collect a 1 percent SPLOST for capital projects from Jan. 1, 2012, to Dec. 31, 2015? 21,525 21,446 Percentage 50.09% 49.91%
Unofficial results from the Cobb County Board of Elections & Registration as of 10:40 p.m.