Georgia voters gave the state more authority over charter schools on Tuesday, passing a constitutional amendment empowering a commission to overrule local school districts that reject charter school petitions.
With all counties fully reporting, the hotly contested amendment had support of 58.5 percent of voters. See selected county results below.
It was an emotionally charged issue that in some ways united Georgians across political and demographic lines. A Peach Pundit poll from late October had found "no significant difference [in support] based on whether a voter is a Republican or a Democrat, a male or a female, or based on race."
Camille Cottrell, an Emory University instructor and card-carrying Democrat, is an example of the ambiguity many voters felt about the issue. Cottrell, who voted yes because she feels something needs to be done to turn around failing school systems, continued to waver even after casting her ballot.
"It was a very, very tough vote for me," Cottrell, a Berkeley Lake resident, told Peachtree Corners Patch. "I believe very much in the public school system... I'm voting against my basic beliefs."
Terrence Morrow, who has children at two charter schools run by the Gwinnett County school system -- New Life Academy and Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology -- voted against the amendment.
"They could do more, but I think they should go through the same process," Morrow told Suwanee Patch.
Duluth resident Mark Bender, who spent his post-voting time at a Suwanee Starbucks, said he supported the proposal.
"If one child can come out the better for it, that's why I voted for it," Bender said.
Dana Gerard of Canton also voted yes, saying that "getting the state involved can only benefit the creation of more charter schools."
But in Athens, Beth Hall Thrasher voted no, because, she said, the amendment "wouldn't give everyone the same opportunities."
Opponents have filed a lawsuit to prevent the amendment from taking effect, arguing that the ballot language misled voters about the proposal's intentions.
Patch editors Steve Burns, Rebecca McCarthy, Judy Putnam and Justin Ove contributed to this story.
Below are results for the state of Georgia and selected counties. For full results, see the Georgia Secretary of State's website.
Voting Yes Voting No Precincts Counted Georgia total 2,162,283 1532,451 100 percent
Forsyth 51,982 26,734 100 percent Fulton 244,714
Gwinnett 179,441 104,815
Liberty 9,075 6,077
Oconee 8,160 8,825 100 percent
Note: Oconee County numbers were revised on Nov. 12. They have been updated.