Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Oconee County Voters Overwhelmingly Approved Liquor By The Drink and SPLOST

Note: This report is based on data released on the evening of the election. The data on voting on the liquor-by-the-drink referendum in the county's four cities turned out to be incorrect. A posting on Dec. 8 explains what the county actually knows about the vote on that referendum. A posting on Dec. 11 explains the consequences for the city of Watkinsville and its response.

Republicans Favored

Oconee County voters approved by large margins the sale of liquor by the drink in restaurants throughout the county and its cities and continuation of the 1 percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for another six years.

Unofficial results show 65.4 percent of those who cast ballots approving of liquor by the drink, and 65.1 percent approving of SPLOST.

Election Clerk Fran Davis 10/4/2014

Both referenda were approved in all 13 of the county’s precincts by wide margins.

The liquor referendum also passed in each of the four cities in the county.

It now is up to the Board of Commissioners as well as to the mayors and councils of the four cities to decide if they want to pass ordinances allowing for the issuance of licenses in their jurisdictions.

Only the BOC has indicated that it plans to do just that, and such an ordinance would only affect the unincorporated parts of the county.

Strong Republican Vote

Oconee County voters overwhelmingly selected Republican David Perdue over Democrat Michelle Nunn in the U.S. Senate Race and Republican Nathan Deal over Democrat Jason Carter for governor.

No Democrat got more than the 27.6 percent of the votes that Nunn and Carter got in the county.

Jody Hice got 74.0 percent of the vote in the race for the open seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Incumbent Mike Link overwhelmingly defeated Dan Matthews in the only contested local seat. That was for a spot on the Watkinsville city council.

Liquor Vote History

Oconee County voters turned down liquor-by-the drink in 2002, 1996 and 1990.

Only 45.2 percent of the electorate voted in favor of the referendum in 2002. Only 40.4 percent had approved in 1996, and 48.2 percent had voted for it in 1990.

Watkinsville authorized the sale of beer and wine in its restaurants in 2006, and Oconee County followed suit in 2008. State law allowed the governments to do this without seeking voter approval.

While the focus in the media had been on the county-wide liquor vote, Georgia law will allow each of the four cities to pass its own ordinances without going back to the voters because the county referendum passed and because it was approved in each of the four cities as well.


Just more than six in 10 of the county’s registered voters (60.7 percent) turned out either in early voting, went to the polls today, or cast a ballot through the mail.

Mailed ballots will be counted through the end of the week, and totals are unofficial until that time.

In addition. 13 provisional ballots remain to be examined and possibly counted.

Early voting had been strong, suggesting that final turnout figures would be high. Early voting ending up accounting for 42.7 percent of the votes cast.

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