Georgia’s presidential and state primary elections are finally right around the corner.
The Presidential primary was originally scheduled for March 24, and then rescheduled for May 19, to coincide with state primaries. Then both were rescheduled for June 9. So voters of both parties will make decisions in dozens of state and local races, and Democrats will pick a presidential candidate.
And there’s an important deadline coming up: Monday, May 11, is the last day you can register to vote in these primaries.
This election will be unlike any other in Georgia history. Why? Gabe Sterling, Chief Operating Officer with Georgia’s secretary of state office, told WABE that an overwhelming majority of Georgians prefer voting in person. But this year, with fear of the coronavirus, hundreds of thousands of voters are likely to vote by mail.
After the original presidential primary was rescheduled the first time, the secretary of state’s office began mailing absentee applications to 6.9 million registered voters in the state. As of May 1, more than 1 million voters had requested absentee ballots, and 700,000 ballots have already been mailed out.
The Secretary of State’s office says that the number of absentee ballot requests is already more than 30 times the number of absentee ballots cast in 2016.
At stake in this upcoming primary is, of course,120 delegates to the Democratic party convention in August, a decision on which Democrat will run against incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue, several congressional seats, and dozens of seats in the state legislature.
Are you registered for the primary?
If you are not among the 6.9 million who have already received an application for absentee ballots, you may not be registered. You’ll need to do so by May 11, 2020.
- You can check your registration status or register here. You can register online with a valid Georgia ID or driver’s license, or you can download the registration application and mail it in to your local county registration office.
- Typically, you should receive acknowledgement from your county registration office in two to four weeks. With the election so close, if you haven’t heard, contact them, because you are not registered until your application is approved.
If you miss this deadline to vote in the primary, you can still register for the general election. The deadline for registration for the Nov. 3, 2020 election is Oct. 5, 2020.
I’ve received my absentee voter application — what do I do with it?
Send your completed application to county election officials anytime before the June 9 primary. You can mail it in, fax it in, send it as an email attachment, or deliver it in-person to a county elections offices. But make sure there is enough time for ballots to be mailed and returned.
Why Am I Asked To Select A Party on My Absentee Ballot Application?
Election officials will send out a ballot based on which party you designate. They will send out a Democratic Party ballot, a Republican Party ballot or a nonpartisan ballot. Georgia is an open primary state, however, meaning that voters can vote on any party’s primary ballot.
What If I Can’t Find My Absentee Ballot Application?
You can always download another one from the Secretary of State website.
Once I Receive My Ballot, What Do I Do?
Your completed ballot must be received by county officers before polls close on election day. You can mail it in. Some counties are also setting up secure drop boxes for voters to return absentee ballots up until polls close.
To check and see if your ballot has been mailed, received and accepted, go to Georgia’s My Voter Page.
I Didn’t Receive a Second Envelope With My Absentee Ballot Packet, Where Do I Put My Ballot Before Placing It In the Outer Return Envelope?
The company that produced the ballot uses what’s called a “secrecy sleeve” instead of a full inner envelope, and this is what Georgia voters received (contrary to the written instructions). The “secrecy sleeve” is a folded piece of paper that you will place your ballot in (and secure with tape if you prefer) before putting it in the outer return envelope to send back.
Can I still vote in-person?
Early voting opens on May 18, 2020. You can vote on a day and time that is convenient for you after that date by visiting your county early voting site, presenting one of the permitted forms of photo ID. You can find out early voting times and locations for your precinct at the My Voter Page.
You can still vote in-person early OR on Election Day, but polling sites are likely to be more limited than in the past as elections officials will be doing frequent cleaning of equipment and will limit the number of people in a room in order to comply with social distancing guidelines.
If I vote in person, what kind of photo ID is required?
- Any valid state or federal government-issued photo ID, including a free ID card issued by our county registrar’s office or the Georgia Department of Driver Services
- A Georgia Driver’s License, even if expired
- Valid employee photo ID from any government office
- Valid US passport, valid military photo ID, valid tribal photo ID
What if I am hospitalized and can’t go in person?
Some counties offer ballot delivery for registered voters who are hospitalized. Contact your county registrar at least five days before the election for information.
What If I Voted Early In March Before The Primary Was Delayed?
Your vote has been recorded, and the presidential race will not show up on either your absentee ballot or on the electronic touchscreen if you decide to go to the polls. You will only see the other races on your ballot.
Are mail-in ballots secure?
Voter fraud among any type of voting, including mail-in or absentee voting, is extremely rare, according to election experts. NPR has reported that mail-in ballots accounted for 25% of votes in 2018 and are increasing in popularity.
Five states in the country (mainly in the west) have instituted robust vote-by-mail programs. It is a nonpartisan issue: mail-in ballots are also used in Republican-led states such as Florida, Arizona and Utah. Former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren has proposed that mail-in ballots be sent to every voter in the country.
For a look at how all states are handling voting during a pandemic, see this chart from the Brennan Center.
This guide was produced with America Amplified, a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. America Amplified is using community engagement to inform and strengthen local, regional and national journalism.