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ESPLOST: Community bamboozled
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Editor,  Bamboozled, hoodwinked, tricked and deceived was how I felt after the last ESPLOST vote in Hinesville on March 20.
I do believe we need to support our students, teachers and build better schools but the perceived lack of advertisement concerning ESPLOST in the last election is questionable. I remember seeing two articles in the Coastal Courier on March 11 and 18 concerning the ESPLOST vote.
In previous elections, we have seen not only newspaper ads but also radio and television ads, and people on the streets handing out flyers and encouraging voter participation. It almost appears the less people knew about the ESPLOST vote, the more likely the measure would pass.
I was one of the 534 of the 22,843 registered voters who voted in the ESPLOST vote on that day. I arrived at the Walthourville polling station at 10:50 a.m. and asked one of the poll workers how many people had voted because at that time I was the only voter there. The worker said I was the seventh voter at that time and that this special vote was not widely advertised; if you didn’t read the papers you might not have known about this special vote.
I’ve talked to several people before and on March 20 concerning the ESPLOST vote who were unaware of it.
In John Deike’s article in the Coastal Courier on March 30, board of elections official Bud Frankenthaler said, “these special elections can be tougher to publicize and in turn can deprive the public to learn or get more involved in the election process.”
In the same article, board member Charlie Frasier said, “Obviously, it was not promoted well by the board of education. I wish more people had taken a greater interest, but again, part of (the disinterest) is due to the school board not properly informing them.”
I was very angry when I read what an election board member, Esau Kelly, said in the same article, “If you really want your voice to be heard, do not be lazy. Take action and cast your ballot.”
No one can cast a ballot if they are not informed properly about an upcoming special vote. After the vote had been counted and ESPLOST continued, I really wanted to know why this ESPLOST vote appeared to be very low key.
Board of Education Chairman Lily Baker said, in the March 14 edition of the Coastal Courier, “a vote of ‘yes’ would bring funding into our school system to help us continue with our building projects and capital layout. What it does is allow everyone in this community to be responsible for the educational system that is so important to all of our citizens, especially to property owners. It is important that everyone shares in the responsibility for our schools. I hope the voter turnout will be great for the passing of this because we need it.”
After reading that statement, I felt that maybe the lack of publicity was an intentional strategy on the board of education’s part to get what they wanted. Again, Ms. Baker says in the Coastal Courier on March 25, “We’re pleased with the support that we’re getting from those who are interested in coming out to support. I’m not disappointed with the numbers, didn’t expect any greater, but just pleased with the results.”
It is very unfair, in my opinion, not to publicize a special vote adequately and then blame the public for an inadequate turnout.
By not adequately publicizing the ESPLOST special vote, the public did not have a chance to discuss both sides of the issue.
All that most of the public knows is we are paying taxes and many of the taxpayers did not have a voice in the ESPLOST special vote. However, according to Ms. Baker’s last statement, she was “just pleased with the results.”
I hope a better job is done in publicizing a special vote in the future, and I hope that my thoughts are not confirmed in the next ESPLOST special vote.

By Arthur Hennigan
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