The new law permits any voter to enjoy the convenience of voting by mail, without having to provide a reason.
Absentee ballots are available in county elections offices beginning today, Monday, June 5 for the July election. Georgia law requires ballots to be available to voters in all counties at least 45 days before an election.
Under a new Georgia law, registered voters do not need to provide a reason when voting an absentee ballot by mail. In the past, Georgia voters had to meet one of the legally required reasons for voting absentee which included being 75 years or older, disabled or absent from their precinct from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on election day.
As a result of this new law passed by the Georgia General Assembly in 2005, elections officials in all 159 counties are preparing for substantially more mail-in absentee ballots in the upcoming July 18th General Primary, the first statewide election held since the new measure went into effect.
Applications for an absentee ballot may be obtained on the Secretary of States (Cathy Cox) website (www.sos.state.ga.us) or by contacting local county elections offices.
Once completed, an absentee ballot application should be submitted to the county registrar by mail, by fax or by hand delivery by the voter. Addresses and fax numbers for the individual counties can also be found on the Secretary of State website.
Cox noted that there is also frequently confusion about the difference between an absentee ballot application and the absentee ballot itself.
Candidates, campaigns, community groups and others may legally distribute absentee ballot applications. However, it is not legally permissible for campaign workers or others not permitted by law to collect, mail or deliver completed applications.
An absentee ballots, once received, may only be handled, voted or mailed by the voter, unless that individual requires assistance.
The application for voters residing temporarily outside of the county or municipality or physically disabled voters may, upon proof of relationship, be made by such voters mother, father, grandparent, aunt, uncle, sister, brother, spouse, son, daughter, niece, nephew, grandchild, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law or sister-in-law of the age of 18 or older. These relatives must sign a statement that the facts in the application are true.
The absentee ballot application must be in writing and contain the following information: the permanent or temporary address to which the absentee ballot shall be mailed; the election for which you are requesting the ballot; and the name and relationship of the person requesting the ballot if it is someone other than the voter.
Once received by the qualified voter, the absentee ballot should be voted by that voter, then signed, sealed and mailed or personally delivered to the county board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk.
For physically disabled voters, mailing or delivery may be performed by a close relative. It is a felony violation of state law to possess, handle or deliver a voted absentee ballot of another if you do not meet these strict legal requirements.
In-person absentee voting is also available beginning this week at county registration offices throughout the state. It is important to note that the new law does not extend to in-person absentee voting and voters who appear in person outside of the advance voting period will be required to provide one of the following reasons:
You will be absent from your precinct from 7 a.m. until 7 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.
Voters will be required to show appropriate identification when casting an in-person absentee ballot.
The advance voting period for the July 18 primary begins Monday, July 10 and ends at close of business, Friday, July 14.
It is important to note that no advance/in-person absentee voting will be permitted on the day before the election, Monday, July 17.
All mail-in absentee ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on election day in order to be counted.