JONESBORO, Ga. — The south suburban Atlanta electorate has surprised officials by casting their votes early for the November elections, officials revealed Friday afternoon.
Residents of Clayton County, which is huddled against the southside of Atlanta and Fulton County and encompasses the Hartsfield Jackson-Atlanta International Airport, told the AJC they witnessed nearly 6,000 early voters stroll through the poll. The reason is perhaps the referendum on restarting public transportation that was halted more than four years ago due to budget constraints.
“I don’t recall a turnout like this in a mid-term election in the second week of early voting,” Elections Director Annie Bright said. County officials put the issue on the ballot because of the constant calls for reestablishing bus service in the county and to expand MARTA rail service. They say activists have pushed to motivate register voters to get out MARTA may have also helped drive voters in early.
“We’re looking forward to seeing what the Sunday voting will be like,” Bright said told the newspaper.
Exit polling revealed the referendum has produced mixed results.
“We’re a divided household,” Riverdale resident Betty Black said Friday as she and her 27-year-old daughter, Kristen, left the old courthouse in downtown Jonesboro after voting. Black voted for MARTA. Her daughter voted against it.
“I work at the airport and there are people there who don’t have a way to work and I think it’s patently unfair to have to take a taxi back and forth to work,” Black said.
Daughter Kristen produced an answer that most residents who voted against MARTA expansion in Gwinett and Cobb County have articulated in recent years: that MARTA would bring a larger criminal element into the region.