• Today begins critical 1st step that could push MARTA deeper into metro Atlanta

    By: Tony Thomas

    Updated:

    GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Gwinnett County elections officials say more than 600 people cast their ballots on the first day of early voting on the referendum to expand MARTA into the county. 

    Election observers told Channel 2’s Tony Thomas that they expect high turnout and a close result once all is said and done. 

    Pat Prather was one of the early ones to head down to the Gwinnett elections headquarters to cast her referendum vote. She told Thomas her vote was a no. 

    “I just can't afford for my taxes to go up. I just can't afford it,” Prather said. 

    But Ephron Johnson said he voted yes after spending way too much time in traffic heading downtown.

    “It's terrible. Two hours each, and that's just on a regular day,” Johnson said. 

    The referendum would allow MARTA to take over Gwinnett’s transit system and add a one cent sales tax to pay for it. 


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    County elections director Lynn Ledford says an additional 830 people requested absentee ballots so far. She predicts higher than normal turnout for the vote. 

    “It is very significant,” Ledford said. “Normally, a special election, if you’re lucky, you might get 10-15 percent on the high end. This time, we may draw out anywhere from 20-30.”

    But some state Democrats worry not enough people will turn out. Thomas was there Monday as Democratic lawmakers called it a critical time to vote. 

    “My message to fellow Gwinnettians is do not set this one out,” state Rep. Beth Moore said. 

    “Voting is the only way to get a good understanding of what we need,” said state Rep. Donna McCloud.

    A recent Rosetta Stone poll for Channel 2 Action News found the referendum being voted down 48 to 42 percent.

    Early voting continues at election headquarters this week before expanding to seven more sites next week.

    Polls will be open countywide March 19, the actual day set aside for the referendum election.

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