The first day of no-excuse absentee voting for the Muscogee school district's Sept. 15 sales tax referendum was drawing more than average interest today, with 22 ballots cast when voting ended at 4:30 p.m., said elections director Nancy Boren.
"That's good for a first day," Boren said. In some elections no one comes out on the first day, she said, and the school sales tax is the only measure on this ballot.
Besides those voting absentee in person, the elections office got more than 200 phone calls today from residents requesting mail-in applications to vote absentee, Boren said.
Georgia no longer requires registered voters to provide an excuse for voting absentee. The state used to make voters swear that they had one of several reasons to vote early, such as that they would be out of town on election day, or that they were elderly or infirm.
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Now any Columbus voter with an ID can vote absentee 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday in the elections office, which is in the west wing of the city Government Center at 100 10th St.
Sample ballots, absentee ballot applications and other forms can be found on the elections office Web site www.columbusga.org/elections. The last day to register to vote is Aug. 17.
During four days of advance voting, Sept. 8-11, starting the Tuesday after Labor Day, residents also may vote 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. at the Columbus Public Library, 3000 Macon Road.
The school district hopes to raise $223,155,784 if voters approve the tax, which would increase Columbus' overall sales tax rate from 6 to 7 cents for each dollar spent.
Here's the ballot measure in full:
"Shall a special one percent sales and use tax for educational purposes be imposed in Muscogee County for a period of time not to exceed 20 calendar quarters and for the raising of not more than $223,155,784 to pay or to be applied toward the cost of (a) (i) the acquisition, construction and equipping of new school buildings and facilities, including but not limited to a new Carver High School, a new middle school, one and possibly two new elementary schools, a fine arts academy, and other such projects, (ii) adding to, renovating, improving and equipping existing school buildings and facilities, including but not limited to Richards Middle School 12-Classroom Addition andRenovation, Northside High school 20-Classroom Addition, Jordan High School Auditorium Upgrade, Kinnett Stadium Upgrades, System-Wide Athletic Facilities Upgrades, air-conditioning gymnasiums, security upgrades, Alternative School and Adult Education Facility Upgrades, and other such projects, (iii) acquiring new schoolequipment and making certain technology improvements, and (iv) acquiring any property necessary or desirable therefore, both real and personal (the “Projects”); and (b) issuing the hereinafter described Debt; the maximum cost of such projects to be funded from the proceeds of such tax not to exceed $223,155,784? If imposition of thetax is approved by the voters, such vote shall also constitute approval of the issuance of general obligation debt of Muscogee County School District in the principal amount not to exceed $70,000,000 (the “Debt”) for the above purposes."