As you return to campus for the Fall, take a moment to answer one very important question: Do you have a VOTING PLAN for the November 8 election?
Voting as a college student living away from home can be a bit more complicated (or even more so if you are spending a semester abroad!). Careful planning now can make things easier in November. Your VOTE is your VOICE – make sure you are heard!
STEP 1: CHECK YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION
Make sure you are registered to vote in Georgia and that everything is up-to-date. You can easily check your voter registration at Georgia’s My Voter Page: mvp.sos.ga.gov
Is your personal information accurate and your voter status listed as ACTIVE?
Great! You are all set and ready to vote.
Is any information inaccurate? Has your address or name changed? Or is your status listed as INACTIVE?
Take action ASAP to make changes and updates. All changes must be made before October 11, 2022. You can update your registration information at registertovote.sos.ga.gov If you need further help (especially if for any reason you are listed as inactive), contact your County Registrar directly. Find contact information at: https://elections.sos.ga.gov/Elections/countyregistrars.do
Not registered yet to vote in Georgia?
If you have not yet registered to vote in Georgia, do it NOW. The last date to register and be eligible to vote in the November 8 election is October 11, 2022. But don’t wait that long, register today–your county registrar will need time to process your registration before you’ll be able to vote.
Eligible voters must meet the following requirements: you will be 18 years or older by Nov 8, you are a US citizen, you are a legal resident of your county, you are not serving a sentence for the conviction of a felony, and you have not been found mentally incompetent by a judge.
You can register to vote at registertovote.sos.ga.gov If you have a Georgia’s driver’s license or State ID, you can register to vote online. If not, you must download and print the registration form and then return the completed form, along with a copy of an approved proof of residence document, to the address on the form (see orange box on form for details).
STEP 2: MAKE A VOTING PLAN
You have 3 options for casting a ballot in Georgia:
- Vote in-person on election day
- Vote early in-person at an early voting location
- Vote using an absentee ballot
Figure out which of the above options works for you, and make your voting plan NOW.
VOTE IN-PERSON ON ELECTION DAY
- Election Day is Tuesday, November 8. Polls will be open from 7:00 am – 7:00 pm
- On election day you may ONLY vote at your assigned polling location which is based upon your registration address (you can find your assigned polling location on My Voter Page mvp.sos.ga.gov)
- Unless you attend college in the same county in which you are registered to vote, voting in-person on election day is unlikely to be feasible for most college students. And who knows what your schedule will hold that day? Thus, most college students will need to use one of the other 2 voting options – early in-person or absentee ballot
VOTE EARLY IN-PERSON
- This is the simplest and most straightforward method of voting in Georgia. If feasible, we highly encourage college students to make a plan to vote in-person during the early voting period.
- Early voting in Georgia will run for 3 weeks, from Monday, October 17 to Friday, November 4, including Saturdays, and, in some counties, on Sundays too
- Exact dates, hours and locations can be found on the Fulton Elections Website, or your county elections website.
- During the early voting period you can vote at ANY early voting location in the county in which you are registered to vote.
- If feasible, we encourage college students to come home during the Early Voting period, October 17 – November 4, to cast their ballot in person. This is a great Fall Break plan!
VOTE VIA ABSENTEE BALLOT/ VOTE BY MAIL
College students who cannot return home during the early voting period or on election day, should plan to vote via absentee ballot aka vote by mail. The absentee ballot process is a bit arduous, and requires a lot of time in postal transit, so we recommend starting it NOW and then being proactive in managing the process.
STEP ONE: Submit an absentee ballot application
Do this NOW! Voting by mail is a long process, so the sooner you apply for a ballot, the better. (The last day to request an absentee ballot is October 28, but don’t wait that long.)
The Absentee Ballot Application can be found at the following site:
Your completed application must be printed out and signed. NOTE: the application is TWO PAGES…you must print out and complete both pages.
You can photograph or scan your completed application and then upload it to the Secretary of State’s absentee ballot portal (link above). Alternatively, you can email a photograph or scanned copy of your application to your county elections office (application must be sent as an ATTACHED .jpg or .pdf file). Fulton county voters can submit their application to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you receive your absentee ballot (likely mid-October), complete it and return it as soon as possible to allow ample time for it to arrive before November 8. Remember to follow all of the included directions and SIGN the ballot return envelope.
Your absentee ballot will come with a self-addressed envelope in which you can return it via mail to your County Elections Office. Please use 2 stamps when returning your ballot.
SPECIAL NOTE: VOTING FROM ABROAD
If you are studying abroad this semester, you have the option to vote absentee through an UOCAVA ballot (Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act) as a “Overseas Temporary Resident”. The UOCAVA ballot is different from a traditional absentee ballot in that your absentee ballot will be sent you via EMAIL (vs. regular mail), thus shortening the time it takes to receive your absentee ballot. You will still need to PRINT the absentee ballot that is emailed to you, complete it on paper, and then return it via regular mail. To request a UOCAVA ballot, go to FVAP.gov and follow the instructions.
Track your Ballot: The Absentee Ballot Portal on the Georgia My Voter Page (mvp.sos.ga.gov) provides helpful information on tracking your absentee ballot application and the absentee ballot itself. You can confirm when your application is received, when your ballot is mailed to you and when the ballot is received and accepted. If you see any problems, please contact your County Elections office ASAP to determine what you must do to remedy any problems.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The Georgia Voter Protection Hotline is a great resource for any question you may have. Dial 1-888-730-5816. If you live outside Georgia, the National Voter Hotline is 888-OUR-VOTE.
As a student living away from home, what address should I use for my voter registration?
Most college students, especially those attending school outside of Georgia, maintain their family’s home address as their registration address while they are in college. Students attending college in Georgia may choose to switch their registration address to their college address, but you must update this address every time you move (often annually for college students!). Additionally, some scholarships and financial aid packages are dependent upon your address of residence, and thus changing your voter registration address may impact your eligibility.
I have friends from out of state who attend college in Georgia. Can they register to vote in Georgia?
There is no minimum residency requirement in order to register to vote in Georgia. This means that students attending college in Georgia may register to vote in Georgia using their campus residential address (but they must cancel their voter registration in their home state….you can only vote in one state!). Also, please note that changing their registration address to Georgia may jeopardize any scholarships or financial aid they receive based on their out-of-state address (see above). Your college Registrar will have more specific information and advice.
If I attend college in Georgia, can I vote in-person during the early voting period at a polling location near my college campus?
If you attend college in the same county in which you are registered to vote, then yes. In Georgia you can vote at ANY early voting location in the county in which you are registered. However, you cannot vote early in a different county than the one in which you are registered. For example, if you are registered to vote at your family’s Fulton County address, but you attend school in Clarke County (Athens, GA), you can only vote early in-person in Fulton County. You cannot vote at a Clarke County early voting location.
If I vote in person, what form of ID do I need to bring with me?
When you vote in-person, you must present a valid photo ID at the polling location. For most voters this will be their Georgia’s Driver’s License (even if expired) or Georgia issued state ID. Alternative forms of accepted photo ID, can be found here: sos.ga.gov/page/georgia-voter-identification-requirements
If you are a newly registered voter who did NOT use a Georgia Driver’s License or State ID when you registered, you may additionally be asked to provide “proof of residence” when you go to vote for the first time. This must be a document that shows: 1) your name, 2) your current Georgia address, 3) and is less than 60 days old. Common examples are: utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document.
Can a parent fill out the absentee ballot application on behalf of the student?
YES! A parent can submit an absentee ballot application on behalf of their child. If you do this, please note that you will leave SECTION 8 (Voter Oath and Signature) BLANK. Instead the parent will provide his/her signature in SECTION 11 (Requesting a ballot on behalf of a voter).
Where should I have my absentee ballot sent? My home or school address?
In SECTION 5 of the absentee ballot application, you can request to have your ballot sent to a temporary address (e.g. your address at school). This is only an option if you go to school in a different county than the one in which you reside. Some people choose this option so that they can have their ballot mailed to them directly. However, many voters have experienced difficulty with this option, and instead choose to have their absentee ballot sent to their home address (where they are registered). They then have a family member mail it to them at school. This option can take a bit longer, but reduces some risk of error and confusion. It’s your choice.
When will I receive my absentee ballot?
The earliest day that counties may begin mailing absentee ballots is October 10. At that time, start checking your My Voter Page (mvp.sos.ga.gov) to confirm when your ballot is put in the mail so that you can be on the lookout for it. Historically most counties start sending ballots one week after this “earliest day”… so be patient.
When should I worry that my absentee ballot is lost or may not arrive in time?
If you have not received your absentee ballot by the third week of October, call your County Registrar to inquire about the status of your ballot. If you fear that your ballot was lost in the mail, or sent to the wrong address, you may opt to cancel that ballot and request a new ballot be mailed to you. Remember to allow yourself ample time to return your ballot…don’t wait until the last minute to resolve problems.
I am worried about returning my absentee ballot to the county by mail….do I have other options?
The absentee ballot process relies heavily on US Mail and thus can be fraught with complications and delays. Some students opt to use their parents as intermediaries to streamline things. For an extra level of reassurance that your completed ballot makes it to the County Registrar, some students opt to mail their completed ballot to their parents who then return the ballot by hand (either directly to the County Registrar’s office or to an absentee ballot drop box). In Georgia, parents are allowed to return absentee ballots on behalf of their child.
If I request an absentee ballot, can I later opt to vote in-person instead?
YES! Many people request an absentee ballot, but then find that they are able to vote in person during the early voting period (plans change!). Or, some voters unfortunately may not receive their absentee ballot in a timely manner, and thus must make plans for a last-minute trip home to vote. Either way, you can vote early in-person (or on election day) by simply informing the poll worker that you want to cancel your absentee ballot request and vote in person instead.
ADDITIONAL VOTER RESOURCES
If you have any questions on the voting process, here are some great resources:
State of Georgia and the Georgia Secretary of State
Websites for both the State of Georgia and the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office offer detailed “how to” guides and resources that will address most voter questions.
The Georgia Voter Guide
This is a non-partisan voter resource that provides even more detailed information for voters. You can find them at georgiavoter.guide Some of their most helpful articles include:
How to Register to vote in Georgia:
How to Apply for an Absentee Ballot:
How to Sumbit your Absentee Ballot:
Candidate Research at branch.vote
For information on candidates, check out branch.vote. Just input your registration address and the site will provide you with the names of all the candidates who will appear on your specific ballot PLUS detailed information on each candidate’s positions and platforms.
National Voter Hotline
To ask specific questions on the voting process, you can call 888-OUR-VOTE (888-687-8683). The non-partisan hotline is staffed by volunteer lawyers with decades of experience who can answer all of your voting questions.