Metro Atlanta voters reject TSPLOST

ATLANTA — Unofficial results for the transportation tax shows that voters were not on board.

Nine out of 12 regions in Georgia rejected the tax, including metro Atlanta with only 37 percent in favor of the 1 percent tax. Click here for election results.

TSPLOST opponents and supporters agree something needs to be done to unclog Atlanta's major roads, but those against the tax said the current plan just did not cut it.

Opponents gathered at Manuel's Tavern in northeast Atlanta and watched Tuesday night as their margin of victory grew. Many in the crowd told Channel 2 they did not trust the government to spend the money wisely and really cut down on traffic.

Opponents said the project list was filled with pork and would not address pollution problems and sprawling growth in metro Atlanta.

"It would reduce the average person's commute time by one minute each way," Senate Majority leader Chip Rogers said.

Cobb County resident Deonne Welch arrived early Tuesday to cast her vote in favor of the referendum.

"It's a bad thing when you have to go downtown and get stuck in that traffic and visitors want to come to town but they're scared because of the traffic," she told Channel 2's Richard Elliot.

Channel 2's political analyst said it is time for TSPLOST supporters to get back to the drawing board as soon as possible.

"The supporters of transit improvements in Atlanta need to start with plan B this morning, and work forward, whether it's toll roads or a gas tax. A simple, palatable package that voters can understand," analyst Bill Crane said.

TSPLOST supporters, including Mayor Kasim Reed, gathered at the Marriot Marquis in downtown Atlanta to watch the poll numbers come in. Reed said he is taking the loss on the chin and vows to work with opponents on the next plan to ease congestion.

Voters in 12 individual regions across Georgia were asked to decide on the referendum that has potential to generate more than $18 billion for transportation projects across the state over the next decade. Late into the evening the measure was losing in nine of 12 regions, including metro Atlanta. Just after 10 p.m. the TSPLOST referendum was losing in all 10 metro counties in the Atlanta region.

Supporters continued to push for the T-SPLOST across the region until the final minutes of the state primary. Passing the referendum could bring in $8 billion for traffic improvements on congested roads and interstates as well as additional mass transit projects in the state's most populous regions.

Many state and local leaders, including Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Gov. Nathan Deal, said passing the referendum would add jobs and improve congestion but failing to pass the measure would be economically damaging for years to come.

Congressional & Local Races

Voters also cast their ballot in hundreds of local races and primaries for 11 of 13 congressional districts.

In north Georgia's new 9th District, state Rep. Doug Collins of Gainesville faced conservative talk radio host Martha Zoller and retired school principal Roger Fitzpatrick of Cleveland. The seat was drawn to lean steeply Republican, giving the GOP primary winner an advantage in the general election against Democrat Jody Cooley, a Gainesville attorney who ran unopposed in the primary. Tuesday night returns showed Collins and Zoller nearly deadlocked with half of the precincts reporting.

Incumbents Lynn Westmoreland, Hank Johnson, John Lewis, Rob Woodall, Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey cruised to victory in their respective district primaries.

Several nonbinding questions appeared on ballots across the state to gauge the temperature of the voting public.

Both the Republican and Democratic ballots ask whether Georgians want to cap or limit lobbyist spending. Similar measures failed this year in the General Assembly, but proponents say a strong showing Tuesday may change minds at the Capitol.

Others GOP ballot questions ask whether voters want to tighten abortion restrictions, expand gambling and allow military members under 21 to carry firearms.