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Even though the General Election happened on Tuesday, November 3rd voters in Georgia must head back to the polls to determine who will represent them in the United States Senate! For those Georgia voters, they may have other tasks to complete. Not everyone has up-to-date or active registration information, some may need to vote absentee, others need to make special accommodations to vote during this global pandemic, and everyone will need to inform themselves about the candidates. This means work will go into preparing to vote! 

If you are unsure about how to vote, continue reading to familiarize yourself with the information necessary to participate in this runoff election. 

VOTING DATES & DEADLINES

Below you will find voting deadlines for the state of Georgia runoff election, along with suggested deadlines to account for the anticipated high volumes of absentee and in-person voting. For more information on voting in Georgia, visit the Vote 411 Georgia webpage and the Georgia Secretary of State’s website.  

Georgia Voting Dates & Deadlines

November 9: Absentee voting period begins.

December 7: Deadline to register to vote OR to update your registration.  

December 14: Early voting begins.

January 5: Deadline to have absentee ballot received by the county board of registrars. 

January 5: Polls open 7 am until 7 pm (eastern).  

Georgia Suggested Voting Deadlines

December 1: Register to vote OR update/confirm your registration.

December 14: Request your absentee ballot. 

December 28: Mail your absentee ballot. 

January 5: Be in line to vote no later than 6:50 pm local time.

BASIC STEPS OF VOTING

Voting requires effort and may be a bit confusing, especially for first-time voters, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating.  In general, it can be as simple as 1-2-3-4!

1

REGISTER to vote.

All voters must be registered with your state/local election officials. Even if you’re already registered, you should update OR verify your registration prior to each election. You may change your voter registration to your local, university-based address should you wish to vote locally.
2

DETERMINE how you will cast your ballot.

In all states, you can vote in-person or absentee.* In most cases, voting absentee requires additional steps, so you will need to decide how you will vote prior to election day to ensure you have time to complete the process. If voting in-person, you will need to find your polling place and figure out how you will get there. You may also need to have an ID to vote, so you will want to make sure you have one that meets the requirements and isn’t going to be expired on election day. *A few states offer universal vote-by-mail, which is different from absentee voting primarily in that you don’t have to request a ballot.
3

INFORM yourself about the candidates & issues on the ballot.

You only get one vote, so take the time to learn more about the candidates and where they stand on issues of importance to you. Depending on the election, your ballot may also have local or state ballot measures to vote on that you’ll want to know more about.
4

VOTE!

Cast your ballot by following your state’s guidelines for the method of voting you chose. If voting in person, make sure to be in line to vote by the time polls close on election day. If voting absentee, be sure your ballot is mailed in time to be counted.

Dates to Note

Graphic with "Vote, Educate Yourself, Engage Community, Exercise Your Voice"

VOTING HOW-TOs

Need to know a little more about the ins-and-outs of the 4 steps to voting?  We’ve got you covered.  Get a jump start on all you need to know below and if you still have questions, let us know!

Step 1: Register

to vote.

All voters must be registered with your state/local election officials. Even if you’re already registered, you should update OR verify your registration prior to each election. 

How to Register to Vote

How to Register to Vote in Alabama

If you have a valid Alabama driver’s license or non-driver identification (ID) card, you may register online.  

If you do not have a valid Alabama driver’s license or non-driver ID, you will need to fill out a physical registration form. The registration form needs to be mailed early enough that it will be received at least 15 days prior to the election day.

You may also register to vote in Alabama when you apply for or renew your state driver’s license or ID card or when you apply or recertify for Aid to Dependent Children, SNAP, TANF, Food Stamps, WIC, Medicaid, or Rehabilitation Services.  You may also complete a registration form at public libraries, armed forces recruiting stations, and the County Board of Registrars office located in your county seat.  

Please note, you are not officially registered to vote in Alabama until your County Board of Registrars reviews and approves your application.  Once approved, they will mail you a voter identification card, which will provide you the name and address of your voting place, along with a listing of the various districts in which you live (e.g. – state House of Representatives, state Senate).

How to Register to Vote in Other States

If you need to register to vote in a state other than Alabama, please visit the Voter Registration page of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) website for more information. 

How to Update Your Registration

If you have changed addresses or changed names since the last time you voted, you need to update your voting information.

How to Update Your Voter Registration in Alabama

If you have a valid Alabama driver’s license or non-driver identification (ID) card, you may update your voter registration online using the register to vote online form.   It will take you through the initial registration process, but then you will be able to report a change of name or address at the end of the application.

If you do not have a valid Alabama driver’s license or non-driver ID, you will need to fill out a physical registration form making sure to complete the appropriate fields for former name and/or former address, as applicable. The registration form needs to be mailed early enough that it will be received at least 15 days prior to the election day.

How to Update Your Voter Registration in Other States

If you need to update your registration in a state other than Alabama, please visit the Voter Registration page of the NASS’ website to access voter registration information for each state. 

How to Verify Your Registration

State’s manage their voter rolls differently, but they all seek to keep them up-to-date.  Virtually all states will remove the names of inactive voters based upon their established criteria, so it’s important to verify your registration is active PRIOR TO EVERY ELECTION.  This will ensure your registration is active, up-to-date, and that you’re able to vote on election day without issue.  Be sure to do this early enough, so you have to time re-register or update your information, if needed. 

How to Verify Your Voter Registration in Alabama

Once registered, you can verify your voter information and registration status online using the Registrant Search tool at the Alabama Secretary of State’s website.

How to Verify Your Voter Registration in Other States/Territories

If you need to verify your registration in a state other than Alabama, please visit the Voter Registration Status page of the NASS’ website to access voter status information for each state. 

Step 2: DETERMINE

how you will cast your ballot.

In all states, you can vote in-person or absentee.* In most cases, voting absentee requires additional steps, so you will need to decide how you will vote prior to election day to ensure you have time to complete the process.  If voting in-person, you will need to find your polling place and figure out how you will get there.  You may also need to have an ID to vote, so you will want to make sure you have one that meets the requirements and isn’t going to expire on or before election day.  

*A few states offer universal vote-by-mail, which is different from absentee voting primarily in that you don’t have to request a ballot.

Step 3: INFORM

yourself about the candidates and issues on the ballot.

You only get one vote, so take the time to learn more about the candidates and where they stand on issues of importance to you.  Depending on the election, your ballot may also have local or state ballot measures to vote on that you’ll want to know more about.

How to Preview Your Ballot & Find Info on Candidates/Issues

To see a preview of what will be on your ballot, you can use the “What’s on your ballot?” tool from Ballotpedia.  To see where candidates stand on the issues and to learn more about ballot initiatives, you can access the League of Women Voters Voter Guide for your voting location, which provides a compilation of unedited candidate responses to a set series of questions along with plain-language explanation of ballot measures.  

Step 4: VOTE!

Cast your ballot by following your state’s guidelines for the method of voting you chose. If voting in person, make sure to be in line to vote by the time polls close on election day. If voting absentee, be sure your ballot is mailed in time to be counted.

Identification

Voter Identification in Alabama

You will be required to present valid photo identification when you vote at your polling place or by absentee ballot, unless exempted by law.

Voter Identification in Other States

Voter identification laws vary by state.  You can use the “Voting in my State” feature at vote411.org to find out about voter ID laws and valid forms of ID for each state.  You may also visit the NASS’ “Valid Forms of ID” page and select the appropriate state.  

Polling Location

Finding Your Polling Location in Alabama

If voting in person, you will need to make sure you go to the proper polling location.  Use the “Locate Your Polling Place” tool from the Alabama Secretary of State to find out where you should go to vote on election day. 

Finding Your Polling Location in Other States

If you will be voting in person in another state on election day, you can visit the NASS’ “Find Your Polling Place” page and select the appropriate state to find more information.

Polling Hours

Polling Place Hours in Alabama

Polling locations are open from 7 am until 7 pm local time.  If you are in line by 7 pm, you have a legal right to cast a ballot.  

Polling Place Hours in Other States

To find the hours polls are open in other states, use the “Voting in my State” feature from vote411.org to select the appropriate state and then click on the “Polling Place Hours” tab.  

Voting in Person

Voting at the Polls on Election Day

If you plan to vote in person at the polls this November, be sure to take the necessary precautions to keep yourself and others safe and healthy! The CDC recommends that you cover your face and nose with a mask while in public, as well as maintaining a distance of 6 feet from others at all times. You should also wash your hands often, especially after being in a public place. If you will not have time to wash your hands immediately after voting, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your face, mouth, or eyes with unwashed hands. 

Also, when you vote in person, remember to bring your ID and facemask! 

Voting Absentee but In-Person at the Lee County, Alabama Courthouse 

Starting September 9, 2020 anybody registered to vote in Lee County, Alabama can go to the Lee County Courthouse in Opelika to vote absentee, but in person. Bring a valid form of ID, go to the Lee County Absentee Election Office at the Lee County Courthouse, and fill out an absentee application AND ballot while there. This is a great option for anybody that wants to avoid the crowd on November 3rd but feels more comfortable voting in person. The courthouse’s hours of operation are Monday-Friday from 8:30-4:30!

Voting Absentee but In-Person in Other Counties/States

To determine if you can vote absentee, but in-person, in other jurisdictions, you will need to contact your local election authorities, which vary by state/county. To find the contact information for election officials around the country, use the Election Official Directory from the US Vote Foundation.  

Absentee Voting

How to Vote Absentee in Alabama

To vote absentee in Alabama, you will need to complete the following steps:

  1. Submit an Absentee Ballot Application to the Absentee Election Manager for the county where you are registered to vote.  You may submit your application in-person at the Absentee Election Manager’s office for your county or via United States Postal Service (USPS) or US commercial carrier.  Your application must be received no later than October 29.
  2. Receive your absentee ballot by USPS mail or have it handed to you in-person if you requested your ballot in-person.  NOTE: You will receive your ballot at the address you indicated on your absentee ballot application.  You may choose to receive your ballot at the address where you are registered to vote OR at another mailing address where you will be receiving mail. If needed, make sure you enter the address where you will be in the few weeks following the submission of your absentee ballot application, so you can receive your ballot in a timely manner.  
  3. Complete your ballot.  
  4. Place your ballot in the secrecy (plain) envelope.
  5. Place the secrecy envelope into the affidavit envelope and seal it. 
  6. Complete the affidavit IN FRONT OF a public notary OR two witnesses, aged 18 or older. 
  7. Have the public notary OR two witnesses complete their part of the affidavit.
  8. Place the completed affidavit envelope inside the pre-addressed return envelope.
  9. Return the envelope package via USPS, US commercial carrier, or in-person. Your absentee ballot must be postmarked/hand delivered by November 2 and received in the office by 12pm on November 3 in order to be counted. 
  10.  Optional: Track the status of your absentee ballot at https://myinfo.alabamavotes.gov/voterview

How to Vote Absentee in Alabama due to COVID-19 

Feel unsafe voting in person during the pandemic? It is your right within the state of Alabama to vote by absentee ballot.

The Alabama Secretary of State declared an emergency absentee rule that allows anybody registered to vote in Alabama the right to submit an absentee ballot, due to concerns surrounding COVID-19.  

When filling out your absentee ballot, all you need to do is select the box which reads as follows:

“I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls. [ID Required]”*

Follow all the other instructions related to absentee voting to ensure your ballot is counted in November!

*You are allowed to mark this even if you do not have COVID-19.

How to Vote Absentee in Other States

If you are registered to vote in another state, you will need to do some additional research to find your state’s absentee voting policies OR you will need to change your voter registration to your university residence. You can find information on your state’s absentee and early voting policies and procedures at the NASS’ “Can I Vote?” website.

Voting in Alabama FAQ

Who can vote in Alabama?

To submit an application to register to vote, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be a citizen of the United States.
  • You must live in the State of Alabama.
  • You must be at least 18 years of age on or before election day.
  • You must not be barred from voting by reason of a disqualifying felony conviction.
  • You must not have been judged “mentally incompetent” in a court of law.

Who can vote absentee in Alabama?

A registered Alabama voter may cast an absentee ballot if s/he:

  • expects to be absent from the county on election day;
  • is ill or has a physical disability that prevents a trip to the polling place;
  • is a registered alabama voter living outside the county, such as a member of the armed forces, a voter employed outside the united states, a college student, or a spouse or child of such a person;
  • is an appointed election officer or poll watcher at a polling place other than his or her regular polling place;
  • expects to work a required shift, 10-hours or more, that coincides with polling hours;
  • is a caregiver for a family member to the second degree of kinship by affinity or consanguinity and the family member is confined to his or her home; OR
  • is currently incarcerated in prison or jail and has not been convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude.

What if I don't feel safe voting in-person on election day due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

The Alabama Secretary of State declared an emergency absentee rule that allows anybody registered to vote in Alabama the right to submit an absentee ballot, due to concerns surrounding COVID-19.  

When filling out your absentee ballot, all you need to do is select the box which reads as follows:

“I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls. [ID Required]”*

Follow all the other instructions related to absentee voting to ensure your ballot is counted in November!

*You are allowed to mark this even if you do not have COVID-19.

Is it possible to have my voting rights restored?

Even if you were found guilty of a felony, you may be able to have your voting rights restored in the state of Alabama.  More information on the restoration of voting rights can be obtained from the Alabama Bureau of Pardons & Paroles.  

Voting Absentee in Lee County, Alabama FAQ

We want to extend a big thank you to the League of Women Voters of East Alabama for pulling together the following information to help Lee County voters better understand the ins-and-outs of absentee voting.

Absentee Ballot Application Questions

Where can I get an Absentee Ballot Application for Lee County?

If you want to vote absentee in the November election, you can download an Application for an Absentee Ballot from Lee County or call the Lee County Absentee Voter office (334-737-3490) and request they mail you one. 

Which reason do I select if I am voting absentee because of the Covid-19 pandemic?

Per the Secretary of State’s State of Emergency guidance, you should select the “I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls. [ID Required]” option on the Application for an Absentee Ballot. 

Where do I send my Absentee Ballot Application for the general election in November?

If you are a registered voter in Lee County, Alabama send your Absentee Ballot Application AND a photocopy of your valid voter identification to:

Lee County Absentee Elections Office

PO Box 1616

Opelika, AL 36803

Can I include more than one application in an envelope?

NO WAY! Each application must be mailed separately, even if they’re coming from the same household. 

Does my Absentee Ballot Application need to be notarized or signed by a witness?

No, not unless you are signing the application with a mark, rather than a signature.

Do I need to include a photocopy of my identification when I mail back my Absentee Ballot Application?

YES, include a photocopy of your valid voter identification (ID) with your Absentee Ballot Application. If you are going to the Lee County Courthouse to submit your application and ballot in person, you do not need to make a photocopy of your ID, but you will need to have your ID with you.

Can I request an absentee ballot and/or turn in my absentee ballot in person?

Absolutely! This is really the easiest way to do it! 

Head to the Lee County Absentee Election Office at the Lee County Courthouse beginning September 21 with your valid ID. If you are already a registered voter in Lee County, Alabama you can fill out and return your Absentee Ballot Application AND complete and cast your ballot right then and there!

If you are not registered to vote, or your registration information is not up to date (you have moved or changed your name since you registered), you can update your information at the Board of Registrars office, which is conveniently right next door to the Absentee Election office!

Can I submit an application for an absentee ballot before the absentee voting period begins in September?

Yes! But be prepared to wait for your absentee ballot to arrive in the mail. Typically, absentee ballots are not available for distribution until 45 calendar days before the election, which is September 19th. 

If you mail in your application in August or September and don’t get your ballot in the mail by October 1, call the Lee County Absentee Election manager’s office at 334-737-3490.

I mailed in my Absentee Ballot Application. How long will it take for me to get my ballot in the mail?

Alabama Code Title 17. Elections § 17-11-5 dictates when the local absentee election manager must provide you with your absentee ballot.  Per the code, upon receipt of an application for an absentee ballot as provided in Section 17-11-3 , if the applicant’s name appears on the list of qualified voters produced from the state voter registration list in the election to be held, or if the voter makes an affidavit for a challenged vote or provisional ballot, the absentee election manager shall furnish the absentee ballot to the applicant by:  (1) Forwarding it by United States mail to the applicant’s or voter’s residence address or, upon written request of the voter, to the address where the voter regularly receives mail or (2) by handing the absentee ballot to the voter in person or, in the case of emergency voting, his or her designee in person. 

The absentee election manager shall mail any absentee ballot requested to be mailed as provided in Section 17-11-3 no later than the next business day after an application has been received unless the absentee ballots have not been delivered to the absentee election manager. If the absentee ballots have not been so delivered, the absentee election manager shall hold all requests until the ballots are delivered and shall then respond by placing ballots in the mail no later than the next business day. 

I requested an absentee ballot and never received one, can I still vote at my polling location on election day?

YES. You will probably be required to vote a provisional ballot at your polling location if the Absentee Election office marked you down as an absentee voter.  

ABSENTEE BALLOT QUESTIONS

Does my absentee ballot need to be notarized or signed by a witness?

The actual ballot itself is not notarized or signed by a witness, BUT one of the envelopes you return your ballot in must be signed by you, in the presence of two witnesses (who then sign) OR a notary (who then notarizes).

Do I need to include a photocopy of my identification when I mail back my ballot?

A photocopy of your ID is only required when you request a ballot.

Can I turn in my absentee ballot in person?

Absolutely! This is really the easiest way to do it! 

Head to the Lee County Absentee Election Office at the Lee County Courthouse beginning September 21 with your valid ID. If you are already a registered voter in Lee County, Alabama you can fill out and return your Absentee Ballot Application AND complete and cast your ballot right then and there!

If you are not registered to vote, or your registration information is not up to date (you have moved or changed your name since you registered), you can update your information at the Board of Registrars office, which is conveniently right next door to the Absentee Election office!

Can I hand deliver an absentee ballot for someone else?

NO; an absentee ballot must be hand-delivered by the absentee voter.

I mailed back my absentee ballot. How do I know if it made it to the Lee County Absentee Election office in time to be counted on Election Day?

The Alabama Secretary of State has a handy-dandy tracking tool for absentee ballots

The envelope containing your absentee ballot has a barcode on it. When it arrives at the Absentee Election office, the barcode is scanned, and the date it is scanned will be reported to the Absentee Ballot Search website. 

If I requested an absentee ballot, but didn’t mail my ballot back by the deadline, can I still vote at my polling location on election day?

YES. You will be asked to vote a provisional ballot, but that ballot will be counted IF the absentee election manager did not receive a ballot from you.

Who mails me my absentee ballot?

If you are a registered voter in Lee County, Alabama the Absentee Election Manager for Lee County, James Majors, determines if you are a qualified voter (basically, if your name is on the list of registered voters, you have filled out the application correctly, and you have included your a copy of your ID, you are a qualified voter). If he determines you are a qualified voter, then by law, he is required to mail your absentee ballot and materials to you by the next business day.

What will the absentee ballot manager send to me in the mail?

Each prospective qualified absentee voter will receive a packet furnished with the absentee ballot, together with three envelopes for returning his or her marked ballot, and instructions for completing and returning the absentee ballot, as well as instructions for correcting mistakes in completing ballots or obtaining a replacement ballot. 

One envelope shall be a secrecy envelope in which the ballot shall be sealed by the voter after s/he has marked it. The second envelope shall have the voter’s affidavit printed on the back and shall be large enough to seal the secrecy ballot envelope inside.  The third envelope shall be a pre-addressed return mail envelope.

Such return mail envelope shall be addressed on the front to the absentee election manager and shall be endorsed on the left-hand upper corner thereof as follows:

“Absent Voter’s Ballot.  State, County, Municipal, General, Primary, or Special Election (as the case may be) to be held on the ․․․ day of ․․․․, 2․․․․ From ․․․․․․ (name of voter), precinct or districts ․․․․․․․․․, County of ․․․․․․․, Alabama.”

After marking the ballot and subscribing the oath herein required, the voter shall seal his or her ballot in the secrecy envelope, place that secrecy envelope inside the affidavit envelope, complete the affidavit in front of the witness(es), have a notary public (or other officer authorized to acknowledge oaths) OR two witnesses witness his or her signature to the affidavit, place the completed affidavit envelope in the return mail envelope, and forward it by United States mail to the absentee election manager or hand it to him/her in person.

OTHER ABSENTEE VOTING QUESTIONS

The address on my identification doesn’t match my current address. Is that a problem?

Nope! The absentee election manager doesn’t compare the address on your application with the address on your ID when determining if you are a qualified voter. Also, you can use other forms of ID that do not list an address, such as a US Passport or your Auburn University student/employee ID card.

If the address on your application does not match the address where you are registered to vote, that’s a problem. Make sure you are registered to vote at your current address by using the Voter Registration Verification Tool prior to applying for and casting your absentee ballot. 

I am an Alabama citizen living overseas. Is the absentee voting process the same for me?

No! You qualify as an UOCAVA (Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act) voter. The process is different for you and the voting period opens for you on September 9th. Refer to the instructions for UOCAVA voters on the Alabama Secretary of State’s website. 

How and when are absentee ballots counted?

Absentee ballots are treated just like regular ballots cast in the election! The county absentee manager collects them in a secure location during the absentee voting period. On election day, the absentee voting office essentially turns into a polling location. 

Election clerks and a chief appointed by the county are given all of the absentee ballots and a list of voters that submitted an Absentee Ballot Application. The chief and poll clerks open all of the outer envelopes, verify the voter signed their affidavit, and verify the voter had their affidavit notarized or witnessed by two people. If a voter has done all of these things, the envelope containing their ballot is moved into the “COUNT” pile. After all of the outer envelopes have been opened, all envelopes in the “COUNT” pile are then opened in order to retrieve the ballots. The ballots are then fed into the machine — the same kind of machine that is used at the polls. The results are printed and sent to the probate judge just like they are at every other polling location on election day.

I’ve heard that absentee ballots are not real ballots.

According to Alabama Code Title 17, the official ballots for any election shall be in the same form as the official regular ballots for the election, except that they shall have printed thereon the words, “Official Absentee Ballot.”