Georgia voter registration deadline extended for primary runoffs

Voters wait in line at the Fanplex voting site late Tuesday evening June 9, 2020, across from the old Turner Field in Atlanta. Voters were reporting a three-hour wait at the site. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Voters wait in line at the Fanplex voting site late Tuesday evening June 9, 2020, across from the old Turner Field in Atlanta. Voters were reporting a three-hour wait at the site. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Tuesday extended Georgia’s voter registration deadline for upcoming state and local primary runoff elections, allowing people to participate if they register by July 13.

Before Raffensperger changed the registration deadline, voters could have only participated in state and local runoffs on Aug. 11 if they had signed up in time to vote in the primary election, by May 11.

Georgia law set the earlier voter registration deadline for state and local runoffs, but the National Voter Registration Act requires voter registration deadlines within 30 days of a federal election.

It wasn’t feasible to maintain separate voter registration deadlines for state and federal elections held on the same day, according to the secretary of state’s office.

"In 2017, a federal judge ruled that Georgia could no longer require that voters had to be registered for the primary in order to vote in the runoff for federal elections, and that decision made it impossible to fully comply with both the NVRA and state law when federal and state elections are held on the same day." said Walter Jones, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office.

From now on, the voter registration deadline for all elections in Georgia will be 29 days before election day.

Voters in 94 of Georgia's 159 counties will have runoff elections Aug. 11 for a variety of offices, including seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Georgia General Assembly or local offices.

An attempt to set up different registration deadlines in the 2018 primary runoff resulted in voter confusion and mistakes, according to the secretary of state’s office. Without a uniform voter registration deadline for runoffs, voters could be disenfranchised from elections they should have been eligible for.

Raffensperger changed the voter registration deadline after consulting with the attorney general’s office and determining that the state had to follow federal law.

A bill that would have aligned state and federal voter registration deadlines failed to pass the Georgia General Assembly last month.

There were more than 7.3 million registered voters in Georgia as of the state's voter registration deadline before the June 9 primary.

Voters who have updated their voter registrations since the June 9 primary will be eligible to vote in their new voting locations in the Aug. 11 runoff.

Voters can check their registration status and precinct location on the state's My Voter Page at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.

How to register to vote in Georgia

Check whether you're already registered online at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov

Register to vote online if you have a valid Georgia driver's license or identification card at registertovote.sos.ga.gov

Print and mail a voter registration application if you don't have a Georgia driver's license or state ID. Paper applications can be printed from the Georgia Secretary of State Office's website at sos.ga.gov/admin/files/GA_VR_APP_2019.pdf. Registration forms are also available at county elections offices.