Explaining Georgia’s New Voting Law

A comprehensive guide to the Peach State’s new legislation

Explaining+Georgia%27s+New+Voting+Law

Georgia recently passed a law altering their voting procedures. The new law is the first of many drafted by Republican states in the aftermath of the 2020 election and has become the object of national news. The changes can be grouped into sections and are explained below.

Absentee Voting

  • The new law eliminates no-excuse absentee voting. This means that ordinary citizens can no longer vote by mail.
  • However, certain voters may be eligible to vote absentee. Examples include military and overseas voters, citizens 65 years or older, people with disabilities, and those residing out of state.
  • To be counted, absentee ballots must include either the voter’s driver’s license number, state ID number, or a copy of their voter registration.
  • Ballots may requested either online or in-person starting 11 weeks before an election.
  • Ballots will be sent out 4 weeks before an election. For military and overseas voters, ballots will be sent out at least 45 days before an election.
  • Precincts are required to have at least one drop box location. Drop boxes will be placed inside a government building and/or voting site and will be accessible during voting days and building hours. Drop boxes were introduced to Georgia during the 2020 election by emergency declaration due to Covid-19. However, they were previously unauthorized by state law.
  • It’s illegal for third parties to send absentee ballots to people who have already requested or received an absentee ballot.

Early Voting

  • For the most part, early voting will remain the same.
  • However, the law extends early weekend voting to two Saturdays instead of one. Sunday voting remains optional.
  • Precincts must also report how many absentee ballots are received, accepted, and rejected during early voting.
  • Voting hours ( which are anywhere from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) remain unchanged.

Runoffs

  • Runoffs are now four weeks instead of seven.
  • Overseas/military voters will be mailed runoff ballots to send in with their regular ballots.

Regular Voting

  • All voting sites must be published online.
  • If a voting site is changed, a sign denoting the new location must be placed outside the original voting site. Voting sites should also be updated online.
  • Third parties are prohibited to bribe voters standing in line with gifts. This includes food and drinks. Groups still wishing to distribute food and drinks may give them to poll workers to distribute. Voters are also allowed to bring or order their own food and drinks.
  • Precincts with more than 2,000 voters are required to record wait times three times a day (once in the morning, once at midday, and once in the afternoon).
  • If wait times exceed one hour, the state will require precincts to either:
    • Split into smaller precincts (allowing for more voting sites)
    • Provide more voting equipment and/or poll workers
  • Precincts must publish how many votes are cast on election day, during early voting, and by absentee voting by 10:00 pm on election day

Vote Counting

  • Precincts will begin processing (but not counting) absentee ballots two weeks before an election.
  • Counties must count all ballots by 5 p.m. the day after an election. Areas that fail to do so may face investigation.
  • Elections must be certified six days after polls close.

Other Changes

  • The law advocates for a multi-state voter registration database. This will make sure no one is registered to vote in multiple states.
  • The Georgia Election Board will no longer be chaired by the Secretary of State. Instead, the state legislature will appoint a nonpartisan chair. New chairs are not allowed to be involved in politics, or endorse a candidate during their time on the board or two years before being appointed to the board.