If you’re a registered voter in Georgia, you should receive an Application for Official Absentee Ballot in the mail by Friday, April 10. If you haven’t, or if you’d like to go ahead and get the process underway, there is a Fillable Absentee Ballot Form 20 (PDF) on the Georgia Secretary of State’s website that you can use instead. You should submit your application for the upcoming primary, now scheduled for May 19, as soon as possible.
Note: Since this guide was originally published, Georgia’s Statewide General Primary/Presidential Preference Primary Election until June 9, 2020. Applications for absentee ballots with the May 19 date will still be accepted.
With voting in Georgia, it’s always a good idea to start off by verifying your voter information on the Secretary of State (SOS) My Voter Page. Once you enter your name, county in which you are registered, and date of birth you should be directed to a page that displays your voter information, polling place, elected officials and the like.
I suggest going to the bottom of that page and clicking on the button that says “Print/Email Precinct Card.” You should be presented with a document that includes your “REG. No.” Be sure to write down that number. It will be preprinted on the application you received in the mail, and it will be a required field if you decide to use the Georgia SOS’s online form. It wouldn’t hurt to print out your precinct card for future reference.
Filling out the application you received in the mail
At first glance, the application form appears to ask that you answer 10 questions. Thankfully, the two required ones are highlighted in yellow, assuming you are requesting an absentee ballot for yourself and not having someone assist you and that you are requesting the ballot be sent to the address at which you are registered. They are:
Question 5: Type of ballot
Question 7: Signature or mark of voter
Answering these two question should be relatively straightforward. Although they are the only required ones if you’re applying for yourself unassisted, I strongly recommend filling out
Question 6: Contact information
Your county election officials will use this information to contact you if they conclude that your application is incomplete. Given recent history in this state with the rejection of similar voter applications due to “exact match” criteria, providing this information means that you will be contacted as quickly as possible to address any discrepancies.
If you qualify, you can let the county registrar know that you wish to receive vote-by-mail ballots for the rest of the election cycle. In this difficult time, when in-person voting may not occur or may not be advisable, this option simplifies life for eligible individuals, since it means that they won’t have to repeat this application again, for any election or runoff, through the end of the year.
To be eligible to receive vote by mail ballots for the rest of the election cycle automatically, you must either be 65 years old or older, disabled, or a uniformed service member. Do not answer Question 10 if you don’t fall into one of the above-mentioned categories.
Question 10: Eligibility to receive vote by mail ballots for the rest of the election cycle without another application?
Don’t worry if you receive an absentee ballot for future elections and decide to vote in-person, circumstances permitting of course. Just be sure to take the absentee ballot you received to your polling place when you go to vote.
Don’t forget postage
The mail-in application is not prepaid, so be sure to affix a first-class (55-cent) stamp before you drop it in the mail.
Filling out and submitting the fillable online application form
If you don’t receive an application in the mail or if you’d prefer to save a stamp and go paperless, you can fill out the equivalent application form online. Keep in mind, this is not a “live” form, meaning that you will still have to print out and sign your application after you fill it out.
Answering the questions in the online form is pretty much the same as answering the questions with the printed application you received in the mail as outlined above, with 2 notable exceptions.
Date of Primary, Election, or Runoff
Currently, the Georgia primary is slated for June 9, 2020 (6/9/2020). Use that date when filling out out the online form.
Voter Registration #
Fill out this field to insure that your application is handled properly and expeditiously. Refer to the instructions in the Preliminaries section at the top to see how to use the Georgia My Voter page to retrieve your voter registration number.
Be sure to use the right postal or email address with your application
Whether you decide to mail your completed application or email in a photo or PDF of it as an attachment, you must use the correct postal or email address for your county registrar. This Georgia SOS Elections Division webpage allows you to locate the contact information for the county in which you are registered to vote. Don’t forget first-class (55-cent) postage if you decide to submit your application by mail.
Go ahead and do it
I do have a personal recommendation and that is for you to use the mail-in application you received in the mail, if you did receive one, and to mail it in old style. This helps create a literal paper trail for your participation in this process. I must admit that I am also troubled by the fact that the Georgia SOS has not provided a standard subject line for email applicants to use. It seems to me that this could be the source of a lot of confusion by overworked election officials swamped with absentee ballot applications.
I hope that this guide helps resolve any questions you have about applying to obtain a ballot for the upcoming Georgia primary. Let me know if you have any questions or corrections in the comment section below.