Only 84 Voters Participated in the Clarkston Annexation Referendum
The referendum vote on the annexation was held this past primary day, May 20th. The two proposed areas were considered separately, which allowed for an up or down vote for each unique area, the two were not tied together. For whatever reason, finding the results initially proved to be something of a challenge, but they are easily found today.
Both areas were voted down in the referendum. A total of 84 voters participated in the referendum, 14 in Part 1-A (6% of a registered 231 voters) and 70 in Part 2-B (from a total of 2,122 registered voters - a paltry 3% participation). The labels assigned to each area can be confusing as the map drawn by Clarkston conflicted with the published study, and none of the references were used in the bill approved by the General Assembly. Part 1-A (Area 2 on their map) is the area to the west of the City, crossing I-285, and Part 2-B (Area 1 on their map) spans Brockett Road, to the City's northeast. Part 1-A was voted down in a 9 No to 5 Yes landslide, while the vote for Part 2-B was TIED, remarkably enough, at 35-35. In a tie vote, the No vote should prevail, as Georgia requires a 50% + 1 clear majority to be approved. I suspect Clarkston may be preparing a case to challenge the results.
Map and formal results, after the break.
The results are reported by precinct, where only 4 precincts were involved. To confuse things even more, only a small portion of each precinct was included in the annexation areas, such that voters had to be separated by their personal address. The low voting totals can be attributed to the relatively few voters living in the proposed annexation areas, the generally low voter turnout being the norm for mid-term primary elections, and the general lack of interest in city issues we might presume for apartment dwellers. (My assumption. YMMV.) What I don't know is just how much effort the Clarkston city administration put into selling the annexation to the area's residents, or if those residents of the area familiar with the recent incorporation effort by Tucker chose to vote against annexation by Clarkston in order to leave the area open to be included in Tucker.
Another factor that may have suppressed voter participation was the procedure the City used for the vote. Letters were issued prior to the vote to those residents in the annexation areas confirming their residence and qualifying them for the referendum. Voters were asked to present this letter to voting officials at the various polling stations, only after which they would be allowed to participate in the referendum. Obviously, just from human nature, many voters would have ignored the letter or forgotten to bring it to the poll thereby having no proof they could participate. (Maybe they were allowed to vote using their ID and a determined attitude, but probably not.) Regardless, the main problem was the apparent inability to program the voting computers to automatically allow their participation, based on their street address alone, no letter or discussion required. If I recall correctly, this same problem compromised the first Chamblee DECA annexation vote, which was ultimately disallowed, allowing a second, positive, vote a year later.
ETA: On further reflection, if this qualification letter WAS required to be presented before someone was allowed to vote on the referendum, I'm beginning to think that this highly irregular procedure might be grounds for a lawsuit to invalidate the entire election process for the referendum. One would hope that this process was fully vetted by legal scholars before it was used here, but my limited experience with election officials would lead me to think the procedure was established without being completely thought out. There are simply too many ways for the voting process to be compromised by requiring this letter. Some voters will not have received the letter, many voters would have ignored the letter upon receipt, more voters would have lost it, others will have forgotten they needed it. And then one could argue, advocates for a Yes vote (City officials?) could easily have concentrated on making sure only their supporters were fully aware of the process and knew to bring the letter, while dissenters and less knowledgeable voters were left to their own devices. Even as a laymen unfamiliar with the particulars of election laws, this one just doesn't pass the smell test.
Of course, and this is just for our Village Idiot, we should note that all American CITIZENS were allowed to vote in the referendum, whether they be native born, immigrants or refugees, as long they were registered voters. And more power to our new American citizens exercising their right to vote. I suspect they are more knowledgeable of most of these issues than you are. (And you know who you are, Idiot.)
So, after Clarkston's failure to annex the area to the northeast, it remains to be seen if Tucker2015 will now add that area back into their map.
ETA: Per Gary M.'s comment following, it seems there will be a special election to have a re-vote on the annexation of Part 2-B (Area 1) where the vote was tied 35-35. Initially, the City is stating that the special election will be held in 4 weeks. I find this relatively surprising for several reasons:
1. I didn't realize that Georgia election policies allowed a revote in the case of a tie (losing) vote in a
referendum. But, I suppose, when considering a vote for candidates running for a public office, a tie
leaves everyone in limbo such that a re-vote would be required, and this would be no different.
2. I'm surprised that Clarkston would still want to annex Part 2-B (Area 1) without also annexing Part 1-A
(Area 2) as the anticipated revenue from the commercial area would be needed to help offset the
additional costs for city services to the residential (read apartments) areas. Especially considering that
Part 1-A was the higher priority for Clarkston.
3. Why hold a special election just for Clarkston in late June when the already scheduled state-wide runoff
vote is set for July 22nd? The formal annexation date, once approved, is January 1, 2015, so pushing
a quick re-vote would seem an unnecessary waste of time and money as it will make no difference what-
soever. Could it be the additional cost would be worth it to Clarkston as it would the most available
means to manipulate the vote, as only the most highly motivated voters would make the effort to show
up at the polls? Do they think they can get their supporters to the polls, while their opponents are left
sleeping at the wheel through the re-vote? We shall see.
Following is a map of Clarkston illustrating the voting results, and the voting totals, by precinct, as published by the DeKalb County Office for Voter Registration and Elections.
This map of Clarkston is modified from the version first prepared by the City to also show the 4 precincts involved in the annexation referendum, the overall results, and the voting by precinct.
Clarkston Special Referendum Unofficial Results
ABM - Absentee By Mail
AIP1 - Advance In Person 1
AIP2 - Advance In Person 2
PRO - Provisional Ballot
Clarkston Special Referendum Unofficial Statement of Vote