ATLANTA - The 2020 presidential election is taking place on Tuesday, November 3. The more than 7 million active voters in Georgia can expect a different experience at the polls because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is, there have never been more options for your vote counted on-time.
FOX 5 is helping you get prepared for whichever way you choose to vote. We've compiled answers to the questions that will impact you on, and before November 3.
How can I register to vote?
Registertovote.sos.ga.gov gives Georgians two choices:
- Print out a paper voter registration form and mail it in.
- Use your Driver's License or State ID Number to register online.
To be eligible to register, you must be at least 17 and a half years old and a citizen of the United States. You cannot be serving time for a felony conviction or declared mentally incompetent.
Once you register, make sure to keep your registration up to date. Having the right address on file means you will vote for the people who actually represent you.
Changing your address without changing your voter registration to match could lead to cancellation.
The best way to check your registration status is by visiting the Secretary of State's My Voter page
How do I request an absentee ballot?
Across the state, tens of thousands of voters have already logged on to the Secretary of State's new online portal, ballotrequest.sos.ga.gov/, to request an absentee ballot.
Here's how it works. Type in your:
- Birth Date
- Driver's License Number
- Fill out a short form, and you're done.
You can also opt to fill out a paper form, which is available from your county's elections office, and mail it back in.
Online: October 5
By mail: Postmarked by October 5
In person: October 5
Absentee ballot deadlines
Request: October 30
Return by mail: Postmarked by November 3 by 7 p.m.
Return in person: November 3 by 7 p.m.
October 12 - 30, but dates and hours may vary based on where you live.
How do I know what's on the ballot?
This November, every Georgia ballot will include the president and vice president and two senate races. For specific ballot information, visit the Secretary of State's My Voter Page.
Log in with your:
- Last name
- Date of birth
- Then "click here for sample ballots"
Counties should have their sample ballots ready for voters to review by the end of September.
When do polls open?
Polling stations open at 7 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m. on Election Day.
Where do I vote?
State officials are encouraging Georgians to vote with a mail-in absentee ballot. However, you can still vote in person during early-voting periods and on Election Day. In-person voters will be instructed to maintain a safe distance when waiting to vote.
How do I become a poll worker?
You can sign up at securevotega.com or on your county's election website.
To be a poll worker in Georgia, you must:
- Be at least 16-years-old
- Be able to read, write, and speak English
Once selected, poll workers must complete detailed training to learn about election procedures, how to set up a polling place and common problems.
Training lasts anywhere from four to nine hours, possibly more depending on the position and level of responsibility.
What should I expect at the polls?
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced some counties to relocate or combine polling locations. Additionally, those voting in person will need to wear a mask and undergo a temperature check.
Many counties lost polling places for the June primary because of the pandemic. Both state and local officials have worked to get new locations onboard before November.
The High Museum of Art and State Farm Arena will serve as early voting locations this year in Fulton County.
With so many changes, it is important for voters to confirm their polling location before election day. You can do so by logging on to the Secretary of State's My Voter page.
Election officials say it is critical that people go to the right precinct on November 3, because voters in the wrong place must full out a provisional ballot. Those ballots may not have the right races listed. Not only could you miss out on voting for your state lawmaker or judge, voting provisionally also takes about three times longer.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger predicts Georgia will see a record turnout of more than 5 million voters for the November election.
Not all of those voters will cast their ballots in person, but many will and some for the first time on the state's new touchscreen voting system.
Just like in years past, poll workers will hand voters an electronic card with a pre-loaded ballot to insert into the machine. This year, the machine will not only record a voter's choices on the card, but also print out a paper ballot.
You must turn the card over to a poll worker and insert your paper ballot into a scanner before you can collect that famous peach sticker.
Elections officials say the first day and the last two days of early voting are usually the busiest, so if you want to avoid crowds, pick a day somewhere in between.
On Election Day, peak times are from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. until the polls close.
What safeguards are in place to make sure my vote is secure?
County elections workers match voters' signatures twice, first on their absentee ballot application and second on the back of the absentee ballot envelope. If that signature doesn't match the one the state has on file, officials reject it.
Though voters do have up until three days after the election to remedy the problem.
For those worried their ballot might get lost in the mail, voters can drop it off in person at their county elections office or use one of the county's new secure ballot drop boxes.
State law requires the boxes be located on government property and monitored by video surveillance 24 hours a day. And election workers regularly collect the ballots inside.
You can check that the county has received and accepted your ballot on the Secretary of State's My Voter Page.
How will my ballot be processed?
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says state elections officials decided to give counties the option to start pre-canvassing those ballots three Mondays prior to Election Day in an effort to avoid delays in reporting results.
"That will allow them to pick up some time because an absentee ballot does take longer," Raffensperger said.
To protect the secrecy of absentee ballots, workers must process them in a secure room.
Election workers can scan the ballots, but state rules do not allow them to tabulate them until after the polls close on election night.
Some counties may have delayed results if they get a large number of absentee ballots back where the signature does not match the one on file. That's because voters have until three days after Election Day to prove they actually did cast that ballot.