Voting is your civil right
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requires that voting systems be accessible to voters with disabilities “in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation (including privacy and independence) as for other voters.” (HAVA, Section 301(a)(3)(a).)
Voting access applies to the entire voting system. A voting system provides these distinct and equally important processes: making one’s selections, verifying one’s selections, and casting one’s vote.
Voters with disabilities must be able to do each part, privately and independently.
Voting Information for Georgia
Elections and Voter Registration Calendar
2015 Election Event Dates
Special Election (To fill vacancies and propose questions) Voter Registration Deadline : February 17th / Election Date: March 17th
Special Election Runoff Voter Registration Deadline : February 17th / Election Date: April 14th
Special Election (To fill vacancies) Voter Registration Deadline : May 18th / Election Date: June 16th
Special Election Runoff Voter Registration Deadline : May 18th / Election Date: July 14th
Special Election (To fill vacancies) Voter Registration Deadline : August 17th / Election Date: September 15th
Special Election Runoff Voter Registration Deadline : August 17th / Election Date: October 13th
General / Special Election Voter Registration Deadline : October 5th / Election Date: November 3rd
General / Special Election Runoff Voter Registration Deadline : October 5th / Election Date: December 1st
Visit www.vote-smart.org to find out who is running and where they stand on key issues.
Your Right to Vote: Voters with disabilities, both mental and physical, have the right to fully participate in all federal, state, and local elections. They also have the right to cast their vote independently and privately.
Poll locator: Don’t know where to go to vote? Use the Georgia Secretary of State’s poll locator at http://www.sos.state.ga.us/elections/locator.htm
Absentee Voting: You may vote by absentee ballot if –
· You will be absent from your precinct from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. on election day.
· You are 75 years of age or older.
· You have a physical disability which prevents you from voting in person or you are a constant caregiver of a person with a disability.
· You are an election official.
· You are observing a religious holiday which prevents you from voting in person.
· You are required to remain on duty in your precinct for the protection of life, health, or safety of the public.
· An elector may cast an absentee ballot in person at the registrar’s office during the period of Monday through Friday of the week immediately preceding the date of the primary, election, or run-off primary or election without having to provide a reason.
You may apply for an Absentee Ballot as early as 180 days prior to an election.
To answer other specific questions about Absentee Voting, please visit the Secretary of State’s website on Voter Registration at: http://www.sos.state.ga.us/elections/elections/voter_information
Access to Polling Places: Your polling place is required to be accessible. If your polling place is not accessible, and your cannot enter it to cast your vote, your local election officials must provide you with an alternative method of voting. Georgia law provides that voters with disabilities may use absentee ballots for this purpose. The State has purchased voting machines that should be accessible to most voters with disabilities. If a machine is inaccessible for any reason, the voter may still cast their ballot using an absentee ballot. All election-related printed material produced by state and local election officials should also be made accessible.
Assistance at Your Polling Place: Voters with disabilities may be accompanied by, and receive assistance from another person of the voter’s choosing, in casting their ballot. This means the voter may have a friend, family member, poll worker, or anyone else assist them in the voting booth.
Provisional Ballots: If you arrive to vote at your polling place and your name is not on the list of registered voters, you can request to cast a provisional ballot. The ballot is “provisional” until your registration can be verified. The Registrars have 48 hours after the closing of the polls to determine if you were eligible to vote. You must cast your provisional ballot in the precinct in which you are registered. If you cast your ballot outside your precinct, it will not be counted. At the time you cast a provisional ballot, the poll officer will give you written information telling you how to find out (a toll-free phone number or a website) if your ballot was counted and, if your ballot was not counted, the reason why your ballot was not counted. Access to information about an individual provisional ballot will be restricted to the elector who cast the ballot.
Helpful Telephone Numbers on Election Day: The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office is responsible for overseeing elections in the state. Each county has a local elections official who is responsible for the actual administration of elections in individual counties. Any problems or questions concerning access to voting should be directed to both offices. The Elections Division of the Secretary of State’s Office can be reached at (404) 656-2871 or www.sos.state.ga.us
If you believe you have been denied the right to vote due to disability or the right to accessible voting, please contact the Georgia Advocacy Office at (800) 537-2329 or (404) 885-1234. (Voice or TTY)
Voting on Election Day
When you arrive at your polling place, you will complete a voter’s certificate that asks for your name and residence address. You will then present the certificate and proper identification to the poll officials who will verify that you are a registered voter in that precinct by checking the voters list for that precinct. Voters are required to present identification at their polling place prior to casting their ballot. Proper identification shall consist of any one of the following:
(1) A Georgia driver’s license that was properly issued by the appropriate state agency;
(2) A valid Georgia Voter Identification Card issued under Code Section 21-2-417.1 or other valid identification card issued by a branch, department, agency, or entity of the State of Georgia, any other state, or the United States authorized by law to issue personal identification;
(3) A valid United States passport;
(4) A valid employee identification card containing a photograph of the elector and issued by any branch, department, agency, or entity of the United States government, this state, or any county, municipality, board, authority, or other entity of this state;
(5) A valid United States military identification card, provided that such identification card contains a photograph of the elector; or
(6) A valid tribal identification card containing a photograph of the elector.
A voter who registered to vote by mail and who votes for the first time in this state shall present to the poll workers either one of the forms of identification listed above or one of the following:
(1) A copy of a current utility bill;
(2) A bank statement;
(3) A government check, paycheck or other government document that shows the name and address of the elector.
If the elector does not have any of the forms of identification listed, they may vote a provisional ballot upon swearing or affirming that the elector is the person identified in the elector’s voter certificate. Such provisional ballot shall only be counted if the registrars are able to verify current and valid identification of the elector within the time period for verifying provisional ballots.
If your name is found on the voter list, you will be issued a voter access card and admitted into a voting booth to cast your vote using an electronic touch screen voting unit. After you cast your ballot the machine will automatically eject the voter access card and you will return the card to a poll official. Instructions on how to operate the electronic touch screen voting unit are posted at each polling place and you may ask a poll official for assistance.
* Georgia law requires employers to grant their workers up to two hours to vote on the day of an election. However, the employer is authorized to specify the hours which an employee may use. This provision does not apply to employees whose hours of work begin at least two hours after the polls open or end at least two hours before the polls close. There is no obligation for an employer to pay the employee for the time taken to vote.
* A voter may receive assistance at the polls if they are unable to read the English language or if he or she has a physical disability that renders them unable to see or mark the ballot, operate the voting equipment, or enter the voting booth. The voter can select anyone they want to assist them in voting, except for the voter’s employer, an agent of that employer, or an officer or agent of the voter’s union. When there is no federal candidate on the ballot, the voter can select anyone to assist them inside the voting booth. No person may assist more than ten voters in a primary, election, or runoff. Note: Between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on the day of an election, voters who are 75 years of age or older or who are physically disabled may, upon request to a poll officer, vote immediately without waiting in line.