By Lois Carlisle
This is a landmark year for American democracy—2020 marks both the centennial of women’s suffrage as well as the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. The right to vote was hard-won by our forebearers. Atlanta’s own late Congressman John Lewis, who suffered multiple beatings during the Civil Rights Movement, called the vote “the most powerful nonviolent tool or instrument in a democratic society.”
On September 22, 2020, folks across the country will celebrate National Voter Registration Day. Every year millions of Americans find themselves unable to vote because they miss a registration deadline, don’t update their registration, or aren’t sure how to register. The purpose of National Voter Registration Day is to make sure every eligible American can vote and—as Congressman Lewis said—exercise their “sacred right.” We join other institutions nationwide to encourage the members of our Atlanta community and beyond to register on September 22.
This year, Atlanta History Center has used the lens of citizenship to explore different aspects of our city’s past. From Black women’s struggle for suffrage to Atlanta’s winning of the bid to host the 1996 Olympic Games, there’s a lot to learn about what it means to be an active and engaged member of the community.
In that spirit, we’ve compiled below a list resources to help Georgians register to vote, find their polling place, volunteer as a paid poll worker, and request a mail-in ballot.
Learn who is on the ballot in your community by visiting Vote 411 from The League of Women Voters Education Fund. Their helpful personalized ballot allows you to search using your address and view statements provided by candidate. You can also print the information to use as a reference when you cast your ballot in-person. Remember, using your cell phone inside of a polling place is illegal, so be sure to print your reference sheet if you want to use it while voting.
Georgia law requires individuals to show photo identification when voting in-person. You are not required to provide identification when you vote absentee by mail.
You must bring one of these six forms of identification to vote.
(Via Georgia Department of Driver Services)
The State of Georgia offers a free Voter ID Card. A Voter ID Card can be issued at any county registrar's office or at Georgia Department of Driver Services free of charge.
To receive a voter identification card at the county registrar's office, the voter must provide:
To receive a free Georgia voter identification card at Georgia Driver Services, voters must provide:
Georgia law allows for mail-in ballots (also known as absentee ballots) to be requested up to 180 days before an election. To request an absentee ballot, voters should complete an absentee ballot application online. Alternatively, voters can complete a paper request form and return the absentee ballot application to their county registration office. Absentee ballot applications can be returned by mail, fax, email (as an attachment), or in-person to the local County Board of Registrar’s Office.
The deadline to request a mail-in ballot is Friday, October 30, 2020. The deadline to return completed mail-in ballot is Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, 2020—meaning that the ballot should arrive by or be postmarked on or before election day.
Poll workers play a critical role in the voting process. They are the boots on the ground responsible for the smooth operation of polling places across the country.
During the pandemic, a significant portion of older poll workers are sheltering in place at home and voting by mail. There is a need for young, healthy people to step in and close the gap.
Along with helping to secure our rights as citizens, poll workers:
These are paid volunteer positions. To learn more about volunteering in Atlanta, resources are linked to below by county. For other counties, visit the Secretary of State’s Secure the Vote website.
If you have questions, need more information or have difficulty getting a free Voter Identification Card, you can contact your county registrar’s office or the Georgia Secretary of State’s Elections Division at:
Telephone (8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.)