Georgia’s deadline to register to vote is just days away, this Tuesday, Oct. 9. Passion is surging on all sides, with all campaigns looking to get folks who haven’t voted in a while — or maybe never voted at all — to turn out and vote for them.
In the midst of it all, on Friday one important voter registration agency, the Department of Driver Services, had a computer system crash. The outage meant that the state government couldn’t register Georgians to vote at the same time they applied for driver’s licenses or state ID cards.
To make up for the outage, the Department of Driver Services opened more than 40 of its locations statewide on Saturday and will again on Monday, Columbus Day. Those locations will be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday and are listed online at dds.georgia.gov/more.
So how do you register to vote? What did the computer crash mean for would-be voters? Here are some facts.
Q: Do I need to register to vote?
A: If you’re not already registered to vote in Georgia or your address changed, you must register to vote by Tuesday to participate in the Nov. 6 election for governor, U.S. Congress, statewide offices, Georgia General Assembly and some local races. You can check your registration status online at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.
Q: How can I register to vote in Georgia?
A: You can register to vote online at registertovote.sos.ga.gov if you already have a Georgia driver’s license number or a state-issued ID number. You can also fill out a paper voter registration application by printing it out from the Georgia Secretary of State’s website, or by picking up an application at post offices, libraries and county election offices. Paper registration applications must be returned or postmarked by Tuesday.
Q: If I don’t have a driver’s license or state ID, can I still register to vote?
A: Yes. You’ll have to complete a paper application and mail it or deliver it to your county’s elections office. If you mail it, it must be postmarked by Oct. 9. On the paper application, you can provide the last four digits of your Social Security number to register to vote. Proof of Georgia residency is required either when you register or when you vote for the first time. That proof can include a current utility bill, bank statement, government check or other government document that shows your name and address.
Q: Do I need photo ID to vote?
A: Photo identification is required before casting a ballot in person in Georgia. The state’s photo ID law allows registered voters to show a state driver’s license, even if it’s expired; a state or federal government-issued photo ID; a valid U.S. passport; a photo employee ID from any federal, state or local government agency; a U.S. military photo ID; or a tribal photo ID.
Q: Who registers people to vote?
A: Voter registration is primarily managed by county election offices, which then submit voter information to the Georgia secretary of state. When voters show up on Election Day or at early voting locations, election employees check your photo ID against voter registration lists to verify that you’re eligible to cast a ballot.
Q: When can I vote?
A: Early voting by mail has already begun in Georgia. Registered voters can request to be mailed a paper absentee ballot through www.mvp.sos.ga.gov. In-person early voting at county election offices and other locations begins statewide on Oct. 15. On Election Day on Nov. 6, voters must report to their neighborhood precincts to cast their ballots.
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