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Friday, June 24, 2011 - 12:23pm

No Way To Move The Date of Transportation Sales Tax Vote

A referendum on a proposed transportation sales tax will take place next summer. Some officials have expressed a desire to move the vote to the November general election. But changing the date won’t be easy.

Georgia residents will vote on a penny sales tax for transportation on July 31, 2012. That’s the same day as the primary election.

This week, media reports suggested that state officials were trying to move the date of the referendum.

The Office of the Secretary of State oversees elections. Spokesman Matt Carruthers says legislation has already determined the date of the transportation tax vote.

“Legislation was passed in the 2010 legislative session, which set that date," he said. "In fact, that was House Bill 277. And then in this year’s legislative session, 2011, House bill 302 set the actual date of the primary, which is July 31, 2012.”

Consultants and some elected officials have said turnout would be better for a general election, and as a result, the key to passing the tax would be to put it before voters when they are already going out to the polls for other high-profile elections.

Some media reports attributed a desire to move the date to Todd Long, the director of planning for the Georgia Department of Transportation. But a spokeswoman said those reports were false and that no one at GDOT has anything to do with setting or changing the date for the referendum.

And in any event, it's unclear if anyone or thing could change the date.

“It’s my understanding that it can’t be moved," Carruthers said. "I don’t know why people would talk about that, but the date is set for the 2012 general primary and that will be on July 31.”

If Georgians approve the tax, it would pay for regional transportation projects.

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