Younger, Low Income, Minority Voters Favored Transit in MARTA Referendum
A referendum to expand Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority rail and bus service to Gwinnett County in Georgia was put to a vote on March 19 and failed. It was the first attempt in 30 years to make the county part of the MARTA system, but voters rejected the proposal for a 1-cent sales tax to fund new transit services.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has produced maps combining the referendum results by polling place with demographic information about surrounding communities. The maps show that voters who supported the proposal were located in younger, minority, and low-income communities. However, the commute time of voters did not translate into a clear pattern of voting, as some voters with short commutes supported the referendum and some with longer commutes voted against it.
The pro-transit campaign had substantial resources and backing, but supporters say the standalone election resulted in low voter turnout. While polls have shown that people want to see better transit in the region, the opposition argued against the sales tax and capitalized on longstanding fears about public transit and MARTA’s past financial problems.