Columbus is halfway through early voting for the Sept. 15 SPLOST referendum and a little more than 500 advance ballots have been cast.
That number leads Nancy Boren, executive director of the county’s elections office, to predict a low turnout for the special election that will determine whether another penny is added onto sales tax.
“I’m going to say probably less than 15 percent,” Boren said.
If approved by voters, the 1 cent sales tax would last five years or until the Muscogee County School District collects $223 million to complete a variety of capital projects, including five new schools — a new Carver High, a new middle school, two new elementary schools and a fine arts academy — additions to Northside High and Richards Middle, and athletics and technology upgrades across the system.
Those who want to vote in the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax before Election Day can do so in person at Boren’s Columbus Government Center west wing office, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If they vote in person, they’ll need to show one of six valid forms of ID, which include a driver’s license or military identification.
People can also vote by mail, though they must fill out an application before getting their ballot, Boren said. Applications can be gained by visiting the Georgia secretary of state’s or Columbus’ Web site, by calling Boren’s office or by getting one in person at her office, she said.
The Government Center will be the only site to vote until the week of Sept. 8-11, when voters can also use the Columbus Public Library.
The library will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Boren said.
All polls will be open Sept. 15 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
A forum on the SPLOST hosted by Common Cause Columbus is scheduled Sept. 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Columbus Public Library.
The public is invited and encouraged to submit questions to Common Cause or ledger-enquirer.com prior to the forum. Written questions will also be taken from the audience during the forum.
An oral question and answer session will be done at the end of the meeting and the ledger-enquirer.com will Webcast the forum live.
Common Cause member Fife Whiteside said the group is still looking for organized opposition to the tax to speak at the forum.
“I think it would be to the public benefit to have two groups there,” he said.
Staff writer Sara Pauff contributed to this report.