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What should I know about voting rights in Georgia?

Authored By: GeorgiaLegalAid.org
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Voting rights laws in Georgia Resources

Voting rights laws in Georgia

What should I know? +

Contents


Who has the right to vote in Georgia?

You must be a registered voter in order to vote in a Georgia election. To register to vote in Georgia you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen; 

  • Be a legal resident of the county; 

  • Be at least 18 years old on Election Day. This means you can register to vote at 17 ½ years old as long as you will be 18 by election day.

  • Have not been found mentally incompetent by a judge; and 

  • Not be serving a sentence for a felony. There are some exceptions to this rule. You can register if:

    • You pled nolo contendere (“no contest”), even if you are still serving a felony sentence, or 

    • You were sentenced under the First Offender Act and your sentence has not been revoked, or 

    • You were sentenced under the Conditional Discharge statute and your sentence has not been revoked. 

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When is a felony sentence complete in Georgia?

You can vote in Georgia even if you were convicted of a felony in the past. However, you must have completed your sentence to vote. A felony sentence is complete if:

  • You have completed all the terms of incarceration.

  • You have completed your probation,

  • You have completed the terms of parole, and 

  • You have either:

    • Paid all fines or

    • Your unpaid fines have been cancelled.

 

You can still vote even if you still have unpaid fees, costs, restitution, or surcharges.

 

Once you have completed your felony sentence, your right to vote is automatically restored. You can register to vote. You do not have to do anything to prove you have finished your sentence.

 

If you are not sure if your sentence is complete, you can request a Certificate of Sentence Completion from your local probation office.

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Can I vote if I am in jail for something other than a felony?

You can vote by absentee ballot even if you are incarcerated if:

  • You are in jail awaiting trial, or

  • You are serving time for a misdemeanor crime. 

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Is there an ID requirement to vote in Georgia?

In Georgia, you must have a photo ID to vote. A valid forms of identification include:

  • A Georgia driver’s license, even if expired;

  • Any valid state or federal government issued photo ID, including a free Voter ID Card issued by the voter’s county registrar or Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS);

  • Valid U.S. passport;

  • Valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency, or entity of the U.S. Government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority, or other entity of the state of Georgia;

  • Valid photo ID from Georgia public colleges, universities and technical colleges, but not from private colleges, universities or other private schools;

  • Valid U.S. military photo ID; and

  • Valid tribal photo ID.

 

If you do not have a valid ID, you can get a free Georgia Voter ID card at: 

  • your county registrar’s office or 

  • a Department of Driver Services office.

 

If you do not give a valid ID when you register to vote, and you vote for the first time by absentee ballot, you must include a copy of a valid ID with your ballot. If you do not, your absentee ballot will be treated as a provisional ballot. 

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What is a provisional ballot?

If you go to cast your vote, but there is an issue, you must still be allowed to vote by provisional ballot. 

 

The reasons you might have to cast a provisional ballot are:

  • Your name does not appear on the list of registered voters in the precinct. 

  • You do not have a valid ID when you go to vote in person.

  • You did not show a valid ID when you registered to vote and:

    • Are voting by absentee ballot for the first time and 

    • Do not include a copy of a valid ID when you cast your absentee ballot.

  • The polls were kept open late during a federal election due to a court order. In this case, anyone who arrives after 7pm will vote by provisional ballot. If the order stands, your vote will be counted. 

 

Provisional ballots are only counted if the issue is resolved within 3 days after the election. 

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What rights do I have as a voter in Georgia?

  • If you are eligible to vote, you have the right to register. 

  • If you are registered to vote, you have the right to vote in any local, county, state or national elections.

  • Voting must be readily accessible to disabled and elderly voters. 

  • Voting must be accessible to people with language barriers. 

  • You have the right to vote without:

    • Intimidation,

    • Threats, 

    • Coercion, or 

    • Other suppression.

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What can I do? +

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How do I register to vote?

There are many ways to register to vote in Georgia. You can register:

  • Online

  • Download, complete and mail in the voter registration.

  • Get a postage paid mail-in form at your local:

    • County board of registrars office,

    • Election office,

    • Public library,

    • Public assistance office,

    • Recruitment office,

    • School, or 

    • Other government offices. 

  • When you renew or apply for your driver’s license,

  • College registrar’s office or the office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs.

 

You can make sure that you are registered on the Georgia Secretary of State website. If you have moved, you must update your voter registration.

 

To be eligible to vote in an election, you must register by the 5th Monday before that election. This means you must register roughly five weeks before the election date. Georgia does not have same day registration. 

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Where can I vote in Georgia?

You can vote:

  • In person through Early Voting. You can vote early from the fourth Monday to the Friday before the election and as soon as possible prior to a runoff. Not all polling places are available for early voting. 

  • By absentee ballot. You can request an absentee ballot on the Secretary of State’s website. Check the Secretary of State’s website to find the deadline for requesting absentee ballots for each election. Return your completed ballot:

    • By mail,

    • In person to your county’s registrar office, 

    • In some elections to an official absentee ballot drop box.

  • By absentee ballot (for Military or Overseas voters): You can find instructions and request an absentee ballot on the Federal Voting Assistance Program website

  • In person on Election Day. Polls are open from at least 7am to 7pm. In some cases, the polls will be open later. If you are in line when polls close you are allowed to vote. 

    • On election day you must vote at your specified polling location. You can find your polling place on the Secretary of State’s website. 

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What can I do if I have to vote by provisional ballot?

If you voted by provisional ballot you can make sure your vote counts by fixing your provisional ballot. 

 

If you cast a provisional ballot because you did not have a valid ID you must:

  • Take a valid ID to the county registrar within 3 days of the election. 

  • If you do not have a valid ID, you can get a free Georgia Voter ID card at: 

    • your county registrar’s office or 

    • a Department of Driver Services office.

 

If you cast a provisional ballot because your name did not appear on the list of registered voters:

  • The county registrar has 3 days after the election to find out whether you were actually registered.

    • If you were registered, your vote will count.

    • If you were registered, but voted at the wrong precinct, your vote will partially count. Only the votes for candidates that would have been on your precinct ballot will count. You will be notified by mail that your ballot was partially counted. 

    • If you were not registered, your vote will not count. You will be notified by mail.

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What can I do if my absentee ballot is rejected?

You can verify that your ballot was accepted by visiting the Georgia Secretary of State My Voter Page. If your ballot was rejected:

  • Your county elections office should contact you with a document to “cure” your ballot.

  • Even so, you should contact the county registrar to find out what your options are to cure your ballot. 

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What can I do if my voting rights are violated?

If you are having trouble registering or voting, you should:

 

Voter suppression or intimidation is a violation of federal law. You can report voter suppression or intimidation by:

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Resources

Last Review and Update: Dec 11, 2020