Early voting opens for Georgia primaries

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Absentee ballots can be requested until May 13, submitted by May 24.

By Mark Niesse — Mark.Niesse@ajc.com

ELECTIONS

Three weeks of early voting begins Monday for voters who want to cast their ballots in the Georgia primary before election day on May 24.

In-person early voting is usually the most popular way of participating in Georgia elections, providing at least 17 days when voters can pick a time that fits their schedule. About 54% of voters cast ballots in advance during the 2020 presidential election.

The primary includes races for Georgia governor, the U.S. Senate, statewide offices and the General Assembly.

Early voting locations, hours and sample ballots are available online on the state’s My Voter Page at mvp.sos.ga.gov.

The primary might be the first time many voters go to the polls since the General Assembly passed Georgia’s new voting law in March 2021, though some cities held local elections in the fall.

Changes to voting laws affect early voting in several ways.

The minimum early voting hours are set at 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and counties can offer up to 12 hours of daily early voting, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In previous elections, early voting times were required “during normal business hours,” but those hours weren’t defined.

Early voting also will be offered on two Saturdays, and local election offices also have the option of providing voting hours on two Sundays. Before the law, one Saturday of early voting was required.

Early voting is available from May 2 to May 20.

All voters also have the option of casting absentee ballots in advance of election day, but the rules have changed.

Under Georgia’s voting law, voters no longer can request an absentee ballot online without signing a paper form, meaning they’ll need access to a printer in most circumstances. A driver’s license or other form of ID also is required. The state’s new absentee ballot request website is securemyabsenteeballot.sos. ga.gov.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is now 11 days before election day, on May 13 for the primary, and completed ballots must be received at local election offices before polls close.

Voters can return absentee ballots through the mail or in drop boxes, but fewer ballot drop boxes are available this year, and there won’t be an option during the final days of the election.

Georgia’s voting law prohibits drop boxes from being used except during early voting hours, and they only can be located inside early voting locations.

The number of drop boxes in each county is capped at one for every 100,000 active voters or the number of early voting locations, whichever is lower. Every county must install at least one drop box.

VOTING EARLY IN GEORGIA PRIMARY

■ Voters can find voting locations, hours and sample ballots on the state’s My Voter Page at mvp.sos.ga.gov.

■ Many counties and cities also provide election information on their websites.

■ Early voting locations will be open from May 2 to May 20.

■ Absentee ballots can be requested until May 13, and completed ballots must be received at local election offices before polls close on election day May 24.