If you follow your local news, you’re probably aware that there is a local election next month for many cities in Georgia. If you were planning to vote in November and aren’t registered, Monday is the last day you can register to vote in that election.
While this is not a big election like a presidential election or a statewide election, the results will have more of an immediate impact on your life than the big ticket elections everyone talks about. These are municipal elections, meaning voters will be choosing city council members and judges. These are the officials who will determine the future of your community, your property tax rates, and what types of development are allowed near where you live.
Below are a few commonly asked questions about voting and registering to vote in Georgia.
Do I need to be registered to vote?: Yes. You have until Oct. 7 to register for the Nov. 5 election.
How do I register?: Georgia makes it pretty easy to register. You can actually register online. Follow this link to register. If you’re not comfortable with online registration, the link will also tell you how to register by mail.
I’m not sure if I am registered to vote. How can I find out?: Georgia also makes this easy. Head over to the state’s handy “My Voter Page” and enter some information about yourself. The website will tell you if you’re registered, where to vote if you are and show you a sample ballot for your precinct.
When is the election?: The election is municipal or city and most of these will be nonpartisan elections.
What is a Non-partisan election?: In a non-partisan election, party affiliation is not shown on the ballot because the political party is not relevant to the position. Commonly, school board seats and city council seats are non-partisan because whether or not one identifies as a republican or a democrat isn’t important to a local office.
The ballot will not tell you if a candidate is a republican or democrat because you are voting on local issues which don’t always line up along party lines.
What are the requirements to register to vote?: Voters must be a citizen of Georgia and the United States, they must live in the county and city they are voting in. Voters also have to be at least 17 and a half years old, not be serving a sentence for a felony and cannot have been found mentally incompetent by a judge.
How will I know once my registration is complete?: You should receive a voter registration card in the mail. If you don’t, you can go to the My Voter Page to check the status of your registration.
What do I do if I’ve moved since the last time I voted?: Good news! You don’t have to re-register, but you do have to change your address. This can be done by going to the online voter registration page. This is the same page you go to if you need to register to vote, but it can also be used to change your address. This also applies to name changes, so if you just got married, you’ll need to update your voter info as well.
Can I vote absentee?: Yes. You don’t actually have to be out of county or out of state. Any resident of Georgia can vote absentee for any reason or no reason. All you have to do is contact your local registrar’s office to request an absentee ballot be mailed to you. Don’t know how to contact your registrar? Just head over to the — you guessed it — My Voter Page to find your county registrar’s contact information.
What if I forgot to get an absentee ballot and can’t make it to the polls on Election Day? Is there any way I can still vote?: Yes. Polls in your area will be open prior to the election for Early Voting. This allows you to vote on your schedule and at a time that is convenient for you instead of having to wait for Election Day. Early voting may not be at your usual polling place, so you’ll need to visit the My Voter Page to find out where you can go to vote early.
I requested an absentee ballot, but didn’t fill it out in time. Can I still vote in person?: You may. You’ll just need to take your absentee ballot to the polls with you. Hand it to the nice poll-worker who will promptly destroy it. Once your absentee ballot has been disposed of, you can vote the traditional way on the traditional day.
How long do I have to vote on Election Day?: With a few exceptions for polls that are open later, polls must be open from at least from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. throughout the state. So, unless you work a 12-hour shift that happens to run from 7 to 7, you should have some time during the day to vote.
Do I need an ID to vote?: In Georgia, a photo ID is required to vote. Most commonly, this is your driver’s license, but you can also use any federal or military ID, a passport or any state issued ID. If you’re an employee of any level of government, you can use your employee ID. If you have none of these forms of identification, you can visit your county office of voter registration to obtain a free voter ID.
My driver’s license is expired. Can I still use it to vote?: Well, we’d recommend getting your driver’s license renewed first, but if for some reason that’s not possible, you can use an expired driver’s license as a valid form of ID. We highly recommend that you have someone with an unexpired license drive you to the polls though. Unless, of course, you own a horse and travel on horseback and that’s why you’ve allowed your driver’s license to expire.
I have a tendency to leave my driver’s license in my other pants. If I do this on election day, can I still vote?: Really? You commonly drive places without your license? Ok, you may need help with more things than just voting, but, if you somehow find yourself at the polls with no ID, you can fill out what’s called a provisional ballot.
Your vote will be recorded, but not counted until you can prove you are a valid voter. The poll worker will provide you with written instructions on how to make your provisional ballot into an actual ballot. Here’s hoping you didn’t forget your glasses or contacts as well.
I don’t have childcare for my children. Can I take them to vote?: Yes. The state encourages children to accompany their parents to the polls. It is an educational experience. They only ask that your children stay with you, don’t interfere with anyone else’s desire to vote, and keep their hands off the voting machines.
Got questions that weren’t answered here? Ask them here.