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Why is it so hard to vote in Georgia?

Continuing on with our series highlighting the most difficult places to vote in the U.S., we dive into issues affecting Georgia. Probably the most pressing issue affecting voters in Georgia is the unreasonably long wait times at the polls due to a shrinking number of polling places. While the reduction in polling stations has happened statewide, it has caused long lines in nonwhite neighborhoods due in part to a surge in registered voters (yay!) but also because Black voters are more likely to cast their ballots in person and are more reluctant to vote by mail, according to U.S. census data and recent studies

In the 2013 Shelby v. Holder case, the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated key federal oversight of election decisions in states with histories of discrimination. Since then, Georgia's voter rolls (a list of people eligible to vote for particular elections in a particular jurisdiction) have grown by almost 2 million people, yet polling locations have been cut by 10%. NPR recently wrote a very in-depth article on this topic if you’d like to dive in further. 

With Election Day right around the corner, the most important thing you can do is make a plan to vote, and vote early. Here’s how to make sure your vote is counted in Georgia:

Vote Early:

Registered voters can vote in person before Election Day. Early voting will help you avoid crowds and allow you to find a time that’s better for your schedule. 

  1. Make sure you’re registered to vote
  1. Know the Early Voting dates 
    • Early in-person voting is open October 12-30, 2020
  2. Find your early voting location
    • *IMPORTANT* - Unlike Election Day, you do not have to vote at an assigned polling location during early voting. You may vote at any early voting location within your county. Find available early voting locations by visiting the Secretary of State’s website and selecting your county of residence from the list. 
  3. Vote
    • Bring a valid photo ID such as a driver's license, passport, or voter identification card.

Vote in-person on Election Day:

  1. Unlike early voting, on Election Day, you must vote at your designated polling place. You can find your assigned polling location on your voter registration card, by logging into the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page, or by contacting your County Board of Registrar's Office
  2. Polling places are open on Election Day from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. If you are in line by 7:00 p.m., you are allowed to cast your ballot. 
  3. When you get to your polling place, show your photo ID to the poll worker. A poll worker will check your photo ID, verify that you are registered and at the correct polling location, issue you a voter access card or ballot, whichever is applicable, and allow you to vote.

In-person COVID Precautions:

  • Maintain social distance of at least 6-feet between yourself and others
  • Screen yourself for any new symptoms of COVID-19
  • Bring your own pen and hand sanitizer
  • Disinfect your hands upon entering and leaving the polling station
  • Wear a face mask

Just because you live in a state where it’s more difficult to vote, shouldn’t keep you from showing up. This is a very important and exciting time to get involved in our political process and let your voice be heard. Make a plan to vote with friends and enjoy the process! Be sure to read our Election Day Guide for ideas of what to bring and how to prepare.

Let’s #IGNITEthevote together. Get started by making your plan to vote

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