Georgia Voters : Absentee Ballot Request
Absentee Voting in Georgia
Georgia is one of the states with the loosest requirements for absentee voting. In Georgia, you are not required to list a reason why you need an absentee ballot. As long as you are registered to vote in the state, you can submit an application for an absentee ballot. When you receive an absentee ballot, you receive a ballot you can complete at home and then send through the mail or drop off at a polling station when early voting begins, up until the election day. Absentee votes are receiving much more attention in 2020 due to the Coronavirus, with both voters and election officials looking for alternate voting opportunities to avoid voters gathering in large crowds.
Requesting a Georgia Absentee Ballot
Compared to other states, applying for an absentee ballot in Georgia is a breeze. You have a generous window to make the request. The deadline begins 180 days before an election and ends several days before the November election, with October 30th the last official day to apply. There are several options to request an absentee ballot application from the county registration office, including:
The application is short, only consisting of a few questions, such as your name, address and date of birth. One of the most important parts of the application is the signature section. In order to get an absentee ballot, the county register must compare your signature on the application to the signature on file with your voter registration form. This ensures nobody is able to fill out an application on your behalf to steal your ballot.
If you are over the age of 65, disabled, plan on temporarily living overseas or are serving in the military, you can make a request to receive absentee ballots for the rest of the election cycle. Otherwise, you must complete the application for each election you want to participate in.
Casting a Vote with a Georgia Absentee Ballot
Once your application is accepted and processed, you will receive your absentee ballot through the mail. In addition to your ballot, you also receive an instruction sheet explaining how to use the ballot and where to send it once you are done voting. The ballot also comes with a return envelope. In Georgia, you may submit an absentee ballot on the same day as an election. If you are living overseas or serving in the military, you have up until three days after an election to get your ballot in.
When your absentee ballot arrives partially depends on your county and the type of election. In most cases, the deadline begins 45 days before the election, and lasts until the last Friday before the election. While the state normally tries to get all the ballots out well before the final deadline, the increase in voters registering for absentee ballots is putting a strain on the system. If the final deadline passes and you do not get your ballot, contact your county election office immediately and request a new ballot.
Voting While Overseas or in the Military
If you are overseas during an election or part of the military, the rules for absentee ballots are mostly the same. You are still required to apply for your ballot, and unless otherwise noted, you use the same deadlines as other absentee voters. One of the major differences is you can request to receive an electronic ballot if you are overseas or serving in the military. The ballot is delivered through the Electronic Ballot Delivery (EBD). This option is only available in elections where a federal candidate is on the ballot.
How Georgia is Preparing for the 2020 Election
There has been some confusion regarding what election officials have planned for the 2020 presidential election. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was one of the first officials to respond to Covid-19. In April, Raffensperger started the absentee ballot request program. Under the program, all registered voters in Georgia were mailed an absentee voter application form. The program was considered a huge success, with over 1 million voters registering for absentee ballots in the primary.
Despite the success of the program, election officials have decided against sending out absentee applications for the 2020 presidential election. Critics are afraid this may cause confusion, as most voters are unaware of the absentee voting system in Georgia. Since they automatically received applications in the primaries, voters may not register for ballots in the presidential election, since they automatically received them previously.
While state officials received praise for sending out ballots, the actual primary was heavily criticized. There were many problems at the polling stations, with workers not knowing how to use the equipment, and confusion over the new voting systems, put in place after complaints of the old system used in 2018. Polling stations were forced to stay open later to accommodate all the voters.
State officials have promised to do better for the presidential election. The goal is to provide better training for poll workers and open up more polling stations across the state. Election officials are also placing an emphasis on employee safety, providing cleaning supplies and protective equipment for poll workers, as well as limiting human contact whenever possible.