Though there are no municipal elections being held this year in Temple, there is a referendum on the ballot that would allow package sales of beer and win on Sundays. Putting the issue on the ballot was a somewhat controversial decision made by the Temple City Council in a 3-2 vote at the request of local convenience store owners in town.
Carroll County Elections Supervisor Becky Deese explained that through Tuesday afternoon her office had 28 Temple voters come in to vote early and nine vote by absentee ballot through the mail — a total of 37 votes cast that would have an affect on the alcohol referendum. Registered voters have until Friday at 4 p.m. to take advantage of early voting at the Elections Office in Carrollton.
“There really haven’t been a lot who’ve voted early in Temple,” Deese said.
The turnout at the polls on July 31 could be a small number as well in Temple, according to Deese. In July 2008 only 218 voters, or 10 percent of the city’s registered voters at that time, cast a ballot on election day.
“They have a lot of voters, but they just don’t get a lot of turnout for their elections.” Deese said. “This could be an issue that is decided by a very small number.”
Deese added that in her experience in an election that doesn’t include a presidential race or heated municipal elections, those who do take the time to vote are the most passionate about the election in question or an issue that may be on the ballot such as the alcohol referendum.
“The (Carroll County Schools) E-SPLOST that went in March of 2011, that was decided by a very small number of voters and I think that will be the same as this,” she said. “Whoever takes the time to vote on this are going to be the ones who are doing the most work either to get it or to keep it out.”
The low turnout in Temple seems to be an anomaly compared to other precincts in Carroll County. The county has a whole has already surpassed the number of early ballots cast compared to those who early voted in July 2008 with 3.7 percent of registered voters voting early this year compared to 2.85 percent in 2008.
Interestingly, during the November 2008 general election, which also was a presidential election year, Carroll County had more voters take advantage of early voting opportunities — 39.8 percent — than those who voted at the polls on election day — 32 percent. However, it should be noted that one reason for this high number may have been that in 2008 early voters had 45 days to do so compared to only 21 days this year.
Though Temple has only had 37 early votes thus far, other precincts are boasting big numbers. Clem has had 185 early voters, Bonner 145, West Georgia 136 and Bethany 122.
“Normally, with early voting we have barely anything the first few weeks — maybe five, 10 or 20 — but this time we started out with 150 and that was just fabulous,” Deese said. “Whatever the reason, I’m just glad to see the turnout being more positive.”
Other than the statewide T-SPLOST referendum — a one-cent sales tax that would fund transportation projects — Temple is the only municipality with a local referendum on the ballot. The city will also have a similar referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot that would decided whether liquor by the drink could be served in restaurants on Sundays.
Temple will consider an amendment to its ordinance that would allow stores to begin selling beer and wine on Sunday immediately following certification of the election results if the measure is approved. However, because the city’s August council meeting doesn’t take place until Aug. 6 and the election is expected to be certified on Aug. 3 stores would have to wait until the following Sunday — Aug. 12 — to begin selling alcohol. If the November liquor-by-the-drink referendum is approved, restaurants could begin selling the first Sunday after certification.