The League of Women Voters for the Dalton Area has serious concerns about the timing of the March 19 special election which will determine if a six-year, $100 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) is enacted for Whitfield County. A special election is intended for unforeseen situations, so we question why voters were not allowed to make this important decision in November when a high voter turnout was guaranteed due to gubernatorial and U.S. races. Fully 60 percent of Whitfield County voters made their voices heard in November.
Voter turnout is notoriously low in March elections. The 2015 SPLOST referendum was also placed on a March ballot and just 10 percent of Whitfield County voters made that $64 million tax decision.
Whitfield County commissioners have had years to decide if and when they wanted to place another SPLOST referendum on the ballot. Did they choose a March special election because of low turnout and a higher probability of controlling the outcome?
Our League proudly works to increase participation in the democratic process via voter registration drives and community education on local and state issues. We stand firmly against the use of special elections for critical decisions such as this SPLOST, and support reform of the Georgia SPLOST law.
But right now our community faces a $100 million tax decision, and we strongly urge you to be a voter! Early voting is underway now through March 15. Election day is March 19.
Please don't sit out this special election or else a select few will make a decision that affects us all. Whatever your position on the proposed SPLOST, all of us should support maximizing participation in the democratic process.
President of the League of
Women Voters Dalton Area