When it comes to voting, Georgia is tough on felons. In fact, the state denies the vote to its citizens with a felony conviction at almost twice the national rate — 3.8% of the state’s voting-age population, versus 2.3% nationally — according to a study from the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit organization focused on incarceration and racial disparities in prisons.
Four years ago, during the last gubernatorial race, it was estimated that over 260,000 people were denied their right to vote in
With the midterm election just around the corner, it’s time to make sure your voter eligibility is in check. Here, we explain your rights and the process before casting a ballot.
If you have been convicted of a felony and served your time, do you still have the right to vote?
Yes. As soon as you complete your incarceration, parole, and probation, you are eligible to register to vote. If you were convicted as a first-time offender, under Georgia’s First Offender Act, you retained your right to vote and were never ineligible. Passed in 1968, the First Offender Act allows individuals to avoid a conviction on their record if they’ve never been convicted of a felony before; certain offenses like aggravated and sexual assaults are not eligible for this provision.
When you complete probation, your outstanding fines are automatically canceled. If you have outstanding fees, you can still register to vote.
If you were convicted of a felony in a state with tighter restrictions, if you are a Georgia resident and have fully completed your sentence requirements, then you may register to vote.
Do I need to re-register to vote?
Although your right to vote was automatically restored when you completed your sentence, you will have to re-register.
You can register to vote online only if you have a valid driver’s license or identification card issued by the Georgia Department of Driver Services. If you do not have a Georgia driver license, you can mail an application or go in person to register.
Here’s a list of registration offices in the largest metro counties:
- Fulton County Government Center, 130 Peachtree St. SW, Suite 2186, Atlanta
- South Fulton Service Center, 5600 Stonewall Tell Road, Room 105, College Park
- North Fulton Service Center, 7741 Roswell Road, Room 251, Sandy Springs
You can register at any public library in Fulton County; find a full list of locations here.
Voter Registration and Elections office
4380 Memorial Drive, Suite 300, Decatur
You can register at any public library in DeKalb County; find a full list of locations here.
Board of Elections and Registration
Jonesboro Historical Courthouse, Main Floor
121 South McDonough St., Jonesboro
You can register at any public library in Clayton County; find a full list of locations here.
Elections and Registration
995 Roswell St. NE, Marietta
You can register at any public library in Cobb County; find a full list of locations here.
Board of Registrations and Elections
455 Grayson Highway, Suite 200, Lawrenceville
You can register at any public library in Gwinnett County; find a full list of locations here.
What if I’m told I’m not eligible even though I have completed my sentence?
If you run into this issue, you may need to get written proof that your sentence is complete. This documentation can be in the form of:
- Certificate of sentence completion from the Department of Community Supervision (DCS)
- Termination letter from DCS
- Court order terminating your probation
- Signed letter from your probation officer
- Email sent directly to the voter registrar from DCS/probation officer
You can only get an official certificate from your local DCS office. Find the full list of field offices here.
The Georgia Justice Project, a nonprofit that advocates for Georgians impacted by the criminal justice system, asks that you notify them at Ann@GJP.org or (404) 827-0027, ext. 248, if you are incorrectly told you’re ineligible so they can track where these errors occur.
What ID do I need to vote?
You must have one of the following forms of ID to register to vote and to cast your ballot on Election Day:
- Valid state or federal government issued photo ID
- Georgia driver’s license, valid or expired
- Valid employee ID from any branch, department, or agency of the U.S. Government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, or other entity
- Valid U.S. passport ID
- Valid U.S. military photo ID
- Valid tribal photo ID
What if I don’t have the right ID?
You can get a free voter ID card with your name, date of birth, and the last four digits of your Social Security number. You can get the card from the Department of Driver Services or any voter registration office.
Does Georgia’s new voter law (SB 202) affect my ability to vote?
No, Senate Bill 202 does not affect voter eligibility. Passed and signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp in March 2021, the controversial new law made headlines for making it illegal for volunteers to hand out food and water to voters within 150 feet of the polling place. There are other important changes if you plan to vote by absentee ballot.
If you are voting by absentee ballot, you must request a mail-in ballot 11 days before the election — this year that is Oct. 28. When you receive your absentee ballot, you have to include your driver’s license number or other form of voter ID to certify your ballot.
Prior to SB 202, drop boxes for absentee ballots were outdoors and accessible 24/7. The bill also limits one drop box per 100,000 residents, drastically reducing the number allowed per county. In 2020, Fulton County had 38 drop boxes; in 2022, it is allowed eight.
Drop boxes for absentee ballots are now only available inside early voting locations during early voting hours. Early voting ends the Friday before Election Day, Nov. 4. If you miss this deadline, you can still put your ballot in the mail using the pre-addressed envelope that is included.
On Election Day, if you go to the wrong precinct, you will be directed to the correct precinct by a poll worker. If you arrive at the wrong precinct after 5 p.m., then you will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot. This is a ballot that is set aside until your eligibility is confirmed before it is counted.
Have Election Day questions you’re curious about? Having issues? Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.