Opinion: Your vote matters, and is secure: Please use it

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

GET OUT THE VOTE: ELECTION 2022

We’re at a critical point now in Georgia’s midterm elections.

Those who haven’t yet cast ballots have their say next Tuesday. Early voting ends Friday evening.

As we’ve done all week on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Opinion pages – and during elections of years past, as well – we strongly urge all who have not yet voted to please do so.

It’s not too late.

Exercising your civic duty is always important – even more so during these turbulent times for Georgia and America.

Society’s current tumult is rattling our cherished democratic systems to their foundation. Regardless of your political leanings, we should all be worried that the fallout could inflict permanent damage to the American Way.

Yes, things are that serious.

Exercising your right to vote is one way to ensure we keep our civil systems – and our Republic as a whole – in good working order.

If you care about your household, your community, Georgia and this nation, please vote. If you’ve already done so, thank you.

If you’ve haven’t yet voted, please make sure you’re thoroughly informed about who and what are on the ballot before heading to your polling place. Grounding oneself in real knowledge takes effort. It’s more of a challenge than ever, given today’s abundance of readily accessible misinformation, disinformation or downright lies that are smoothly and deceitfully marketed widely as truth.

Don’t be deceived.

Rather, be informed. And rightly empowered as a result.

Here at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, providing accurate, nonpartisan information about candidates and issues is a large part of our promise to you. Our journalists have been at this task for a long, long time, and we take seriously our responsibility to our readers and to our society. The faith placed in journalism by the U.S. Constitution’s writers demands no less of us.

On these pages today, we’re again presenting a comprehensive package of information about how and where to vote in Georgia. We also offer our Voter’s Guide as a detailed resource of information to help you make sound choices at the voting screen.

One big downside of today’s political environment is that the fire hose of endless – and often fact-challenged – attacks on our election systems have planted unwarranted doubts in the minds of many voters about election security.

Don’t believe that. All credible evidence and data prove that Georgia’s election systems are secure, and that votes cast here are recorded and counted accurately.

The onslaught of allegations and lawsuits about the veracity of election results in the 2020 election put our system through a stress test. It met the challenges.

So, rest assured that your vote matters, and that it is counted – but only if you take the time to vote.

Lastly, we’d be remiss in not observing that this current time of hyper-partisan divides may be affecting how people feel about voting. At this point, “We the people” may seem like an endangered concept, rather than a living embodiment of a nation free to productively disagree while ever in search of that more-perfect union our Founders pursued.

The toxic noise and untruths now have made a mockery of that noble goal. It’s sad to consider that many Americans may be disaffected enough to stay away from the polls, no matter how important the stakes for us individually or collectively.

That civic disengagement should not become the new normal. Georgia and America must be better than this.

We have to each learn how to scale the fences we’re all locked behind at this point, fearful of each other and of ideas or lifestyles that we dislike or don’t understand.

Civility cannot become extinct in this state and country.

So if you haven’t voted already, please do so. While you’re at a polling place or drop box, smile at your fellow voters and maybe even thank them for stepping up as well.

The representative democracy our votes help empower is our own.

The Editorial Board.


The Editorial Board’s opinion during past elections

Oct. 25, 2020

“Anyone paying attention knows that the foundations of this republic and a needed common civic faith in its key institutions of government are at a very low point.

“A transcript of the 1789 joint session of the First Congress, which began the work to create the Bill of Rights, notes that ‘extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.’”

Oct. 11, 2020

“The great American experiment is imperiled if progress fully stalls amid our anger and discord. Our history, imperfect as it is, has been marked by a relentless march toward ideals that have long defined us.

“Making thoughtful choices requires information backed by real facts that aren’t tainted by partisan motives. They are harder to find these days, given a sea of self-serving disinformation that offers a compelling lullaby that confirms -- and never challenges -- our beliefs or biases.

“An America at its best demands far more.”

Nov. 6, 2016

Quoting a 1969 presidential inaugural speech: “The simple things are the ones most needed today if we are to surmount what divides us, and cement what unites.”

“We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another – until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices.”

ExploreGet Out The Vote, an exclusive AJC series

VOTING IN GEORGIA

Where and when can I vote on Election Day?

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 8. You can find your polling place on the Georgia secretary of state’s website: mvp.sos.ga.gov

Can I vote early?

Early voting is available in every county in Georgia through Friday, Nov. 4. Check the secretary of state’s website for locations.

Do I need ID?

Georgia law requires photo identification when voting, either in person or absentee. It’s the way your county ensures it’s you casting your ballot and not someone who isn’t eligible to vote.

What IDs are acceptable?

  • Any valid state or federal government-issued photo ID, including a free ID card issued by your county registrar’s office or the Georgia Department of Driver Services.
  • A Georgia driver’s license, even if expired
  • Student ID from a Georgia public college or university
  • Valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency, or entity of the U.S. government, Georgia or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of this state
  • Valid U.S. passport ID
  • Valid U.S. military photo ID containing a photograph of the voter
  • Valid tribal photo ID containing a photograph of the voter

What if I don’t bring an ID to vote?

If you are unable to provide ID, you will be able to vote a provisional ballot. You will need to provide a copy of your ID within three days after the election to your county Board of Elections and Registration. As long as you do so, your provisional ballot will be counted, as long as you are otherwise eligible to vote.

How can I check the status of my ballot?

That information is on the Georgia secretary of state’s website.

Source: Georgia secretary of state,

OUR VOTER GUIDE

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Atlanta Civic Circle teamed up to contact hundreds of candidates to provide voters with a side-by-side look at the candidates for office, their views on issues voters care about most, their party affiliation and their history in elective politics.

On ajc.com, our Georgia Decides voter guide includes basic information on candidates for statewide office, the legislature and candidates for local office throughout metro Atlanta. These include county officials such as county commissioners and school board members.

ABOUT THIS SERIES

Over the next seven days, we’re dedicating this space to a collection of pieces that remind you that, yes, your vote does count, and, yes, our elections are secure.

That means the Atlanta Forward pages will look a little different.

You’ll notice that we are not publishing letters to the editor this week. We’re giving our national columnists, such as George Will and Leonard Pitts, a break. And Mike Luckovich and our From the Right cartoonists will return in a week.

Throughout the week, our hope is to engage in a civil and non-partisan discussion. We’ll experiment with different ways of presenting information. Along the way, you’ll hear a lot from your neighbors about the importance of voting.

To help you cast your ballot, you’ll also notice that we will be providing plenty of useful information, such as how to find your polling place and what you need to bring to the polls to do your part to uphold our Democracy.