Registering to vote
The deadline to register to vote in this election is Monday, October 7.
To register to vote in Georgia, you must be at least 17.5 years old, a US citizen, a Chatham County resident, and not be a convicted felon or legally mentally incompetent. If you check all those boxes, great!
Luckily, Georgia makes it fairly easy to register to vote. You can go to sos.ga.gov and complete the registration online.
You’ll need a valid driver’s license or an ID card issued by the Department of Driver’s Services to complete the process, so keep it nearby. If you don’t have either of those things, you can manually fill out a paper registration.
Importantly, you’re not officially registered to vote until your application is approved, which should happen within two to four weeks. That’s why the deadline is Oct. 7.
Keep checking your status at mvp.sos.ga.gov—it should say Status: Active underneath Voter Information.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the issues with Georgia voter registration in previous years.
In last year’s gubernatorial race, voter registration issues affected the election. Brian Kemp, then Secretary of State, remained in that position through the election. The AP reported last year that, since 2012, Kemp’s office in the Secretary of State had cancelled over 1.4 million voter registrations.
These registrations were placed on hold because they were flagged by Georgia’s “exact match” system, which allows officials to pull a registration because of any discrepancy. Even a missing hyphen could lead to a hold. These registrations were pulled without the voter being notified. Kemp is now Governor of Georgia.
After last year’s shenanigans made national news, everyone is watching the Secretary of State’s office closely, but that doesn’t mean everything is A-OK. Make sure that all of your information is as accurate as possible to ensure that you’re registered.
Early and absentee voting
If you don’t want to vote on actual Election Day, you can vote early in two ways: in person and by absentee ballot.
Early in-person voting takes place Oct. 14 through Nov. 1, no reason required. You can just show up at the Voter Registration Office at 1117 Eisenhower Drive, Suite E.
From Oct. 14-25, voting is available at the office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those hours expand—Sat., Oct. 26, the hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Sun., Oct. 27, they are noon to 5 p.m.
From Oct. 28 to Nov. 1, extra locations will be added. The Civic Center will be open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mosquito Control is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Islands Library is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Southwest Library is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. New this year, Pooler City Hall will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
You can also vote absentee from Oct. 14 through Nov. 1. The application for the ballot can be submitted by mail, fax, email, or in person at the office.
Getting ready to vote
The only thing you actually need to provide at the polls is a valid photo ID. This will probably be your Georgia driver’s license, which will be accepted even if it’s expired.
Also acceptable are: any valid state or federal government issued ID; an employee photo ID from a state or federal government agency, branch, department or entity; a US passport ID; a US military photo ID; or a tribal photo ID. Students of a public college or university in Georgia can also bring their student photo ID.
If you don’t have one of these IDs but are still eligible to vote, go to the Department of Driver Services (there’s one on Eisenhower) to request a free ID card. To receive that, you need to bring: a photo identity document that includes full legal name and date of birth; documentation showing the voter’s date of birth; evidence that the applicant is a registered voter; and documentation showing the applicant’s name and residential address.
Double- and triple-check your polling precinct location to make sure you go to the right place. Put it in your GPS and figure out how long it’ll take you to get there. Figure out parking.
Find friends that live near you and make a plan to carpool together.
Poll hours are 7 a.m.-7 p.m. By Georgia law, your employer must give you two hours to vote. This applies to employees whose workday starts earlier than 5 a.m. or ends later than 9 p.m. Your employer may be able to decide when you’re able to leave to vote. Not all of us have the luxury of an accommodating schedule or an understanding employer, so consider voting early or absentee if you’re not sure if you’ll be able to vote on Election Day.
Granted, a municipal election doesn’t draw the pull of a gubernatorial or presidential election, but it should. Prepare to stand in line for a while depending on what time you go. Make a day of it.
Get in, loser, we’re going voting! Tuesday, Nov. 5 is here, and we’re electing our City Council members and our Mayor.
You’ve done your research, you’re registered to vote, and you’re ready to make your voice heard. Don’t let anything stand in your way.
At polls in Georgia, you may not distribute or wear campaign paraphernalia or solicit votes within 150 feet, so make sure anything that could be construed as such is not on your person.
Also, take all your selfies before you go in—the use of cameras, cell phones and recording devices is prohibited.
As mentioned, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. As long as you are in line when polls close, you can cast your vote. Don’t leave the line, even for a bathroom break.
As long as you’re registered, the voting process should be fairly easy, but you may run into some issues.
Here’s what to do if that happens:
If you’re told that you’re not on the voter roll, first confirm that you’re registered to vote and that you’re at the right polling place—but we already did that, right? Confirm that the poll worker is spelling your name correctly. If they’re still not finding you, ask to cast a provisional ballot.
Under the Help America Vote Act of 2002, if you’re eligible to vote in your district, you can ask for a provisional ballot if you don’t have your ID with you.
Then, you’ll have three days to provide proper documentation to your county registrar’s office. If you do need to cast a provisional ballot, ask for written instructions about what you need to do.
At the polls, if you experience intimidation, harassment, false information about voting requirements, or people impersonating poll workers or election officials, call the Election Protection hotline at 866-687-8683. For Chatham County, you can also call the Chatham County Board of Elections at 912-201-4375, or submit a complaint online at elections.chathamcounty.org.