SB 202: What You Need to Know About Georgia’s New Voting Law

Earlier this year, Georgia passed SB 202, also known as the “Election Integrity Act of 2021.” The law changed voting in small but potentially crucial ways. Those changes are outlined below, along with suggestions about how to best adapt to the changes.

Absentee Mail-In Ballots

The length of time for requesting an absentee mail-in ballot has been shortened.

The New Way: You now must request your absentee ballot between 78 and 11 days before the election. For the November 8, 2022 election this means between Monday, August 22, 2022, and Friday, October 28, 2022.

The Old Way: You could request your absentee ballot up to 180 days until the Friday before the election.

New Requirements for Absentee Ballot Application

SB 202 imposes new requirements for Georgia voters applying for an absentee ballot.

The New Way: You must provide your:

  • Date of birth;
  • Address as registered;
  • Address where elector wishes ballot to be mailed;
  • Georgia DL or ID card number OR photo of ID.
  • Signature under oath.

The Old Way: You had to provide a signature.

You can obtain an absentee ballot application online or request one from the local elections office. There are limitations on mass mailing of absentee ballot applications.

New Requirements for Absentee Ballots

In addition to new requirements for requesting an absentee ballot, there are now additional requirements for completing the ballot itself.

The New Way:

  • Print name;
  • Signature;
  • Georgia DL or ID number, or last four digits of SSN;
  • DOB;
  • Longer oath.

The Old Way: Signature.

Drop Boxes for Absentee Ballots

Drop boxes are now permitted by law, not just by State Election Board Emergency Rule. HOWEVER, there will now be some changes.

The New Way:

  • One drop box for the lesser of either 100,000 active registered voters or number of absentee locations. This will make more of a difference in densely populated counties.
  • Drop boxes at voting locations only, inside, and only open during voting hours. Drop boxes will be “under constant surveillance by an election official or his or her designee, law enforcement official, or licensed security guard.”
  • During an emergency drop boxes may be outside; however, still limited in number, hours open, and surveillance requirements.

The Old Way: SEB rule only required video surveillance; drop boxes were open 24 hours until election day.

Best Practices for Absentee Mail-In Voting in Georgia

SB 202 makes absentee voting a bit more challenging. In order to ensure that you will be able to vote, and that your vote will count, I suggest the following:.

  • If you do not have either a Georgia Driver’s License or a Voter ID, GET IT. Without either of these two numbers, absentee mail-in voting will be much more difficult.
  • If you decide to vote absentee, double check all your information. For example, you do not want to have to fill out a cure affidavit to get your vote counted because you got your birthday wrong.
  • If you decide to vote absentee and you want to deliver it via drop box, you will need a plan to drop it off during hours the drop box is open. Presumably you can drop your absentee ballot off at a drop box on one of the Saturdays for voting if doing so during the week is too difficult.

Early In-Person Voting

Many people feel more comfortable voting in person, and prefer the convenience of early in-person voting. If you plan to vote early and in person, here’s what you need to know.

Hours

The New Way:

  • Early in-person voting hours are now 9 am-5 pm;
  • Registrars may allow early voting to run 7 am- 7 pm.

The Old Way: Early in-person voting occurred during “normal business hours.”

Days

The New Way:

  • Still three weeks before Election Day;
  • Two Saturdays of voting, 9 am-5 pm;
  • Up to two Sundays voting permitted, as determined by registrar; hours are variable but up to 7 am-7 pm.

The Old Way: Only one Saturday mandated.

The national media has paid a lot of attention to SB 202’s restrictions on providing people in line to vote with food and drink. Bring your own water and snacks! County elections offices are permitted, but not required, to provide self-service water.

Best Practices for Early In-Person Voting

Do not wait until the third week of early in-person voting or election day to vote. Vote in person during the first two weeks of absentee voting or request an absentee ballot. You do not want to assume that you will vote in-person the third week or on election day, and then miss your chance to request an absentee ballot if your plans suddenly change.

Bring water and snacks! If you have made the effort to get to your polling place, you don’t want hunger or thirst to force you to leave before you cast your vote.

Election Day

Provisional Ballots

The New Way: You cannot cast a provisional ballot in the wrong precinct before 5 pm and have it count.

The Old Way: This restriction did not exist. You could cast a provisional ballot at the wrong precinct at any time on election day and votes for valid races would count.

Best Practices for Election Day Voting:

Remember that redistricting is occurring this year, meaning that the districts for all non-state/county/city-wide races (United States House of Representatives, Georgia House and Senate, School Board, County or City Commissioner, etc.) may change. You may find yourself voting for or against different incumbents than you did in 2020. As a result, your precinct may also change. So if you do wait until election day, make sure you check your precinct location, and then try to vote early. You want to leave yourself plenty of time lest you show up at the wrong precinct.

Runoffs

The New Way: The length of time between the regular election and runoff is 28 days from the date of the election

The Old Way: The length of time between the regular election and runoff was nine weeks from the date of the election.

Early In-Person Voting for Runoffs

The New Way: Early in-person voting begins “as soon as possible” but no later than the full week before the runoff.

The Old Way: There were three full weeks of early in-person voting.

Best Practice for Voting in Runoffs

Vote in person. Requesting, receiving, and returning an absentee ballot in this compressed time frame will be much more difficult. Therefore, make a plan to vote in person. Check your county election website for dates, times, and locations of in-person voting.

Categories: Election Law

For More Information

  • By submitting this form I understand that contacting the firm through the website does not start an attorney/client relationship.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.