How to Vote in Georgia’s 2020 Election: What You Need to Know

Posted on 07/31/20 by Ann Hardie

En Espanol | Vietnamese | Korean | Chinese | All Georgia voters are encouraged to vote absentee or early in this year’s general election, because of the coronavirus pandemic and the long lines and problems with voting machines in the June primaries.

  • This year, all registered voters are eligible to cast an absentee ballot — you don’t need a particular reason.
  • All voters can also vote early, from Monday, Oct. 12, to Friday, Oct. 30, to avoid long Election Day lines. A record 5 million people — about 70 percent of Georgia’s registered voters — are expected to cast ballots in the November election.
A man walks out of an absentee voting station after voting

Here’s what else you need to know:

How do I register to vote?

You can register online, by mail or in person. Register online on the Georgia Secretary of State’s website or mobile app, GA SOS. You can also download and print an application from the site to fill out and mail to the secretary of state’s office. Or pick up a registration form at your county Board of Registrars or election office, public library, military recruiting office, public assistance office or other government locations. You can also register when you renew or apply for a driver’s license at the Georgia Department of Driver Services. Note that the deadline to register for the Nov. 3 general election is Monday, Oct. 5,  almost a full month before Election Day.

You can check if you’re already registered and update your registration information via the secretary of state’s site.

How can I get an absentee ballot? Are there important deadlines?

Any registered voter is eligible to cast an absentee ballot — you don’t need to cite a reason. You’ll need to submit an absentee ballot application, which can be downloaded from the secretary of state’s site and sent to your county Board of Registrars office. Or you can send a letter to your county board specifying that you want to register for the Nov. 3 general election and include your name, address, date of birth and signature. Your application must be received before polls close on Election Day, but you’ll also need time to return the marked ballot by 7 p.m. on that day.

Some counties have installed secure drop boxes where voters can deposit absentee ballots without needing postage. Check with your local registrar to see if your county offers this service.

How do I know my absentee ballot is secure?

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) has appointed an Absentee Ballot Fraud Task Force of election officials, prosecutors and law enforcement officers to investigate allegations of voter fraud. The task force may investigate mismatched voter signatures, multiple voters with the same address and those who use nonresidential addresses. Georgia requires counties to notify voters if their ballots are rejected for any reason, such as a signature that’s missing or doesn’t appear to match the one on file. The provision gives voters the opportunity to fix their ballot if there’s a problem.

When is Election Day? When are polls open?

Tuesday, Nov. 3. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters who are disabled or 75 years and older do not have to wait in line to vote if they show up at their polling place between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Can I vote before Election Day?

Georgia requires counties to hold three weeks of early voting, beginning Monday, Oct. 12. Counties set the times and days, which must include at least one Saturday. The final day of early voting is Friday, Oct. 30. Find locations at Georgia’s online My Voter Page.

What form of identification do I need to vote?

You don’t have to provide ID if you vote absentee by mail. But Georgia requires ID when voting in person. Acceptable forms of ID include a Georgia driver’s license, even if expired, a valid state or federal government-issued photo ID — including a free ID card issued by your county registrar or the Georgia Department of Driver Services (see the full list of acceptable IDs). If you have questions or are having difficulty getting your free voter ID card, contact your county registrar’s office or the secretary of state’s office: 404-656-2871.

What is being done to make polling places safe from coronavirus?

The secretary of state’s office will supply masks, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies to county elections offices. Polling places will also have styluses so voters won’t have to touch the voting machine’s screen. Voters are required to socially distance.

Will I be able to vote in the same place as I always have?

Not necessarily. Fewer election workers may mean combining some polling places. Check Georgia’s online My Voter Page or with your county elections office before heading to the polls.

What are the key races in my state?

  • U.S. President
  • U.S. Senate: Incumbent David Perdue (R) vs. Jon Ossoff (D) and Shane Hazel (L)
  • U.S. Senate: Incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R) vs. 20 challengers
  • U.S. House: All 14 seats 
  • General Assembly: All 180 House and 56 Senate seats

Voting rules and procedures may change before Election Day. We’ll update this story if they do, so bookmark this page and check back. 

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AARP is urging older Americans to ask the candidates 5 key questions:

  • Just over half of all older Social Security beneficiaries rely on the program for at least 50 percent of their income. If elected, how will you ensure that current and future Social Security benefits are not cut as part of deficit reduction?
  • Half of the people with traditional Medicare spend at least a sixth of their income on health care. If elected, how will you protect Medicare from benefit cuts, as well as lower health care costs and ensure seniors continue receiving the affordable health care they have earned?
  • COVID-19 has caused death and suffering for too many older Americans who require long-term care. If elected, how will you make sure seniors can access safe and affordable long-term care at home, as well as in facilities like nursing homes and assisted living?

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You can find CDC’s latest coronavirus information at cdc.gov/coronavirus; AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.