MARIETTA — Early voting for Cobb’s November elections began Tuesday, and several voters were willing to share their feelings with the MDJ about what was on their ballot that morning.
Three weeks of voting precede the Nov. 2 election, when Cobb Countians will vote on a new 1% sales tax for education (Ed-SPLOST VI), elect officials in five of Cobb’s six cities and elect the Marietta Board of Education.
Tuesday voters mixed on Ed-SPLOSTThe sixth cycle of the special purpose local option sales tax for education is on the ballot. If approved, the 1% sales tax on all consumer goods will continue to fund improvements for the county’s two school systems.
Collection for Ed-SPLOST VI, which is expected to bring in $895 million for Cobb County Schools and $71.5 million for Marietta City Schools, will start in 2024 and last for five years.
Cobb Schools is planning several big-ticket projects: a new elementary school in south Cobb, a rebuild of the main Sprayberry High School building in east Cobb and a second district career academy on the north end of the county. Marietta Schools, meanwhile, is focusing much of its money on renovations or additions to schools, including Marietta High School and several elementary schools.
But the districts also plan to use some money for security and technology upgrades, instructional materials, copiers, paving and repairs.
Jeff King, a Cobb voter, told the MDJ that’s the part he has an issue with. King, who voted “no” on the new Ed-SPLOST, said he’d done so because the school districts’ special sales tax had gone beyond its original purpose, as had Cobb County’s special sales taxes.
“I think the budgeting process in the county is broken, where they’re having to do these SPLOSTs every few years to pay for what is just regular budgetary items and not just stuff that is a special local option,” King said. “So I think the process is broken.”
King did say that he recognizes the sales tax captures money from renters and others who don’t pay Cobb property tax, and he hoped the county could find ways to fund projects other than raising property taxes, but he called the use of SPLOST for many items “hocus pocus.”
Charles Sineath, a Marietta voter, likewise said he voted “no” on the countywide Ed-SPLOST VI.
“I just think that I have to live within my means, you have to live within your means — I think the school (system) needs to live within its means,” Sineath said.
He said though he also voted on the Marietta mayor, City Council and school board races, he “better not” share who he’d voted for in any of them, given that he liked all the candidates.
“I think they’re all nice, honest, upright people. I don’t think we’d be in trouble with any of them,” he said.
On the other hand, Judy Echols, a Cobb voter, said she’d voted “yes” on the Ed-SPLOST.
“We need this extra money to do these things, and it’s for educational purposes, so why not?” she said. “Any tax to pass to help the school system, I’m going to vote yes on it.”
A smooth first dayCobb Elections Director Janine Eveler reported Tuesday afternoon early voting had started without a hitch. Eveler said there had been no issues with machines so far.
She said she couldn’t comment on the day’s turnout until the elections office had time to collect the statistics, but Eveler did say that, as of Tuesday morning, absentee ballot applications had been four to five times higher than in the November 2017 city elections or the March 2017 Ed-SPLOST vote.
Early voting takes place through Saturday this week. Next week, voting runs Monday through Saturday and Monday through Friday the following week. There is no Sunday voting, and the Friday before the election is the last day of early voting.
Early voting dates and times are as follows:
♦ Oct. 12-15: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
♦ Oct. 16: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
♦ Oct. 18-22: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
♦ Oct. 23: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
♦ Oct. 25-29: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Any registered Cobb voter can vote early at any of the early voting locations. If voting on Election Day, voters must go to their assigned precinct.
Early voting is taking place at the Cobb County Elections & Registration Main Office in Marietta, The Art Place in Marietta, the Roberts School Community Center in Acworth, the Austell Collar Park Community Center in Austell, the Ben Robertson Community Center in Kennesaw, the CCSD Brown Professional Learning Center in Smyrna and the Ron Anderson Recreation Center Community Room in Powder Springs.
If voting absentee-by-mail, voters can use ballot dropboxes at any early voting locations except for the CCSD Brown Professional Learning Center. Dropboxes are located inside the polling places and are only accessible during voting hours.
Voters must show a valid government-issued ID to vote.