Results of Gwinnett transit referendum still too close to call

Gwinnett County Transit has taken steps to protect employees from COVID-19. Employees want more - including a requirement that passengers wear masks. (FILE PHOTO BY ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
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Gwinnett County Transit has taken steps to protect employees from COVID-19. Employees want more - including a requirement that passengers wear masks. (FILE PHOTO BY ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

The results of a Gwinnett County transit referendum are still too close to call, even after the county completed counting absentee mail-in ballots on Friday.

The measure was still failing by a little more than 1,000 votes after a Friday upload of more than 7,000 ballots. Now the $12.1 billion measure will come down to 1,503 outstanding ballots — three remaining overseas ballots, 535 absentees with issues that were fixed by voters, and 965 provisional ballots.

Not all the provisional ballots will count.

If the ballot measure is defeated, it will be the second time Gwinnett County residents rejected transit expansion in less than two years. In March 2019, in a special election, voters soundly defeated the proposal.

Proponents thought transit expansion failed last year in part because it was low-turnout special election. They expressed confidence that it would pass this year, in a major presidential election.

The proposal before voters Tuesday would extend MARTA rail to Jimmy Carter Boulevard from Doraville. Within 10 years, it would also add two high-capacity bus rapid transit lines, as well as two arterial rapid transit lines on main corridors. It would expand paratransit service and commuter bus lines and add microtransit areas.

While the proposal that was rejected last year would have required Gwinnett to join MARTA, this proposal would allow the county to manage its own system.

Before the vote, Alan Chapman ― the Gwinnett transportation director who retired at the end of October — said he was confident about the changes that had been made from the last proposal.

“I feel good about it,” he said. “Based on what we heard last time, they’re the appropriate changes to make.”