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$4.1 billion in sales tax proposals on ballots; Oct. 4 deadline for voter registration

By David Pendered
With the Oct. 4 deadline looming to register to vote, MARTA on Tuesday is helping to register voters for local elections that include $4.1 billion in proposed sales taxes to improve school facilities and mobility.

Atlanta Public Schools would use $2.8 million of the $650.8 million in proposed sales tax revenues to upgrade Herman J. Russell West End Academy – $1.7 million for roof replacement; $600,000 for emergency generator; $500,000 for security vestibules. (File/Photo by David Pendered)

Voters in three metro counties face sales tax referendums proposed for:

  • Atlanta – On the ballot in DeKalb and Fulton counties: A total of $650.8 million for Atlanta Public Schools, via an extension of a 1 percent sales tax for an additional five years in DeKalb and Fulton counties. One ballot question in each county proposes sales taxes for both county and city school districts;
  • Cobb County: A total of almost $966.4 for school projects in the Cobb County ($894.9 million, minus cost of a since-removed commencement/special events center) and Marietta ($71.5 million) school districts, via an extension of a 1 percent sales tax for an additional five years;
  • DeKalb County: A total of $816.2 million for school projects in the school districts of Atlanta ($32.6 million), Decatur ($40.8 million) and DeKalb County ($742.8 million), via an extension of a 1 percent sales tax for an additional five years. Funds are to be distributed on the basis of full time enrollments in each district;
  • Fulton – Transportation: $545.9 million over five years for mobility improvements in 14 cities outside the City of Atlanta, via an extension of a 0.75 percent sales for an additional five years. Distribution of funds is to be based on the 2019 estimates of city populations;
  • Fulton – Education: A total of $1.8 billion over five years for the school districts of Atlanta ($618.1 million) and Fulton County ($1.2 billion) via an extension of a 1 percent sales tax for an additional five years. Funds are to be distributed on the basis of full time enrollments in each district.

On Tuesday, MARTA is hosting voter registration drives at seven rail stations as part of National Voter Registration Day. (Photo courtesy of MARTA, 2019; Chart by David Pendered).

MARTA’s voter registration drive continues the transit system’s participation in National Voter Registration Day. The organization’s website states it’s a non-partisan program endorsed by groups including the National Association of Secretaries of State. Reportedsponsors include Aflac, Facebook and Twitter.

From 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at seven transit stations, volunteers from local non-profit organizations are scheduled to be set up to provide the paperwork needed to register to vote. Registration does require the identification materials mandated by state law – a state ID card, a state-issued driver’s license. Another option is to provide the last four digits of the applicant’s social security number, according to MARTA.

In addition, the Secretary of State, which oversees elections, lists these requirements on a page on its website:

Volunteers helped MARTA riders register to vote as part of the 2019 National Voter Registration Day. (Photo courtesy of MARTA, 2019)

  • “Be a citizen of the United States;
  • “Be a legal resident of the county;
  • “Be at least 17 ½ years of age to register and 18 years of age to vote;
  • “Not be serving a sentence for conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude [defined as a felony conviction; click here for additional information];
  • “Have not been found mentally incompetent by a judge.”

MARTA is to require applicants to wear masks to participate in the registration drive.

Voter applicants can expect to receive their precinct cards in at least three to four weeks, according to a report by Georgia’s Secretary of State. Counties are responsible for voter registration, and local officials typically take this amount of time to process applications, according to the Secretary of State. A faster answer to questions about registration and precinct location may be available on the state’s My Voter Page.

For more information on MARTA’s voter registration program click here. For more information from Georgia’s Secretary of State on voting in the 2021 election, click here.

National Voter Registration Day contends it has registered almost 4.5 million voters nationwide since it was established in 2012. (Photo courtesy of MARTA, 2019)

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David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.

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