This year’s election has already been unlike any other. Beyond the fact that many of us are casting absentee ballots for the first time due to the Covid-19 pandemic or showing up to the polls dressed in our best masks, pocket hand sanitizers at the ready—Georgians are also voting in record numbers. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3.9 million Georgians have voted so far in this election, 95 percent of the total amount of Georgians who voted in 2016 and just over half of the state’s register voters.
Turnout has been high across the country, but things are especially interesting here in Georgia because we have not one, but two U.S. Senate races drawing national attention, and we are undeniably a battleground state in this year’s presidential election between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Both Biden and Trump visited the state in the final week before the election, along with two visits from Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris and a visit from former President Barack Obama the day before the election.
But ultimately, it all comes down to you, dear voter. It’s your voice and your vote. Let’s cast those ballots, Atlanta. Here’s what you need to know today:
Know before you go:
First, find your polling place (and review a sample ballot) by entering your info at the Georgia secretary of state’s My Voter Page. Be sure to double-check your polling place—due to the pandemic, many polling places have changed and some have changed as recently as October.
Polls open at 7 a.m. Make sure you get to your polling place before polls close at 7 p.m.—as long as you’re standing in line before then, you can still vote—and be sure you have your photo ID. That can include a driver’s license, passport, or these other forms of accepted ID.
You could experience lines today, so be sure to bring what you need—a power bank, snacks, water, medications, headphones, a book, your laptop, a chair, whatever helps you stay comfortable. As of about 11:30 a.m., however, most polling places are reporting short lines, with wait times of only about 5 minutes. Luckily, it is supposed to be beautiful day: sunny with a high of 64. But do bring a jacket, especially if you go to vote later in the day—it will drop into 40s this evening.
Georgia has new voting machines this year, but they’re very easy to use. Check in with a poll worker and you’ll receive a plastic card, as usual, which you’ll insert into your voting machine. Select your picks on the large touchscreen displays. When you’re done, you’ll take your card from the machine, along with a paper print-out that shows your ballot selections. Walk that paper over to the ballot scanner, cast it, drop off your plastic card, and collect your peach sticker.
You can request a provisional ballot if you run into issues with your identification or registration. You must verify your identification to your voter registration within three days in order to have your provisional ballot counted.
For absentee voters, if you have not yet turned in your absentee ballot, you need to put it in an official drop box in your county. Here are drop box locations for Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, and Gwinnett counties. Clayton County’s drop box is located at Clayton County Board of Elections & Registration, 121 South McDonough Street, Jonesboro. DO NOT try to mail your absentee ballot via USPS at this point. State law requires that all ballots be received at the county voting office by 7 p.m. November 3, so if you try to mail it today, it will not arrive in time.
Also for absentee voters, if your absentee ballot has been accepted (you can check this on the My Voter Page), you have officially voted in this election. You cannot show up in person and vote again—that’s voter fraud. However, if you haven’t yet submitted your absentee ballot, you can still vote in person. You need to bring your absentee ballot to your polling place and give it to a poll worker, who will cancel your absentee ballot and allow you to vote in person.
Getting to the polls:
- Lyft is offering half-off trips; use code 2020VOTE.
- Uber is also providing half-off trips to the polls, available through the in-app poll finder.
- The New Georgia Project is offering free rides to the polls for those who need it, call 1- 800-877-1541.
If you’re still researching your vote:
Statewide candidate questionnaires
To help you learn where the 2020 U.S. Senate and House candidates stand, we asked them to answer questions about the pandemic, healthcare, the state of policing, and other issues impacting life in our state.
- Republican David Perdue is the incumbent and did not provide responses to our questionnaire, but you can visit his campaign website here.
- Democrat Jon Ossoff
- Libertarian Shane Hazel
U.S. Senate (Special Election)
This race for former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat is also known as the “jungle primary” due to the fact that there was no primary for this seat. That means there are 21 total candidates are on the ballot.
- Republican Kelly Loeffler is the incumbent and did not provide responses to our questionnaire, but you can visit her campaign website here.
- Republican Doug Collins
- Democrat Raphael Warnock
- Democrat Matt Lieberman
5th Congressional District
This race is for the seat held by Rep. John Lewis, who died in July. Note that the race on the November ballot will determine who serves the term beginning in 2021. A separate runoff election between Kwanza Hall and Robert Franklin, to be held in December, will determine who holds this seat only for the rest of 2020.
- Republican Angela Stanton-King
- Democrat Nikema Williams did not provide responses to our questionnaire, but you can visit her campaign website here.
6th Congressional District
Democrat Lucy McBath is the incumbent.
- Republican Karen Handel did not provide responses to our questionnaire, but you can visit her campaign website here.
7th Congressional District
- Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux
- Republican Rich McCormick did not provide responses to our questionnaire, but you can visit his campaign website here.
Of course, there are many more races on the ballot, depending on where you live. Check out your sample ballot on the state’s My Voter Page.
Questions, amendments, and referendums
As usual, there are a few potentially confusing questions at the bottom of your ballot. Over at Saporta Report, reporter Maggie Lee has tackled the ones Atlantans will most likely see, explaining them in plain English. (By the way, Lee also built this nifty database of tweets from Georgia’s U.S. Senate and House candidates, so if you want to see what a candidate has tweeted about a particular issue/person/sports team, just type it in and find out.)
Gwinnett voters, you also have a transit referendum. WSB-TV has more info on that here.
If you’ve voted but want to help out today:
More workplaces are giving Election Day as a paid holiday, and with many voting early, more people are looking for ways to help out and give back today. We rounded up several local volunteer opportunities here.
Y’all, this is probably gonna take a while. And we can’t just blame Fulton County this year. It takes time to process and count that record number of absentee ballots, and if you remember the 2018 gubernatorial, you know close races take more time to call. This problem is by no means exclusive to Georgia—according to the New York Times, “only nine states expect to have at least 98 percent of unofficial results reported by noon the day after the election.” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has said he expects most winners to be announced by Wednesday, but it could take a few days. One thing that will help Georgia fight delays is that counties have been able to open and scan absentee ballots for the past two weeks.
WSB-TV, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 11 Alive, and other local news organizations should all provide results as soon as they’re able. The AJC has already warned it “will likely be slower [this year] to declare winners,” and will not be looking at “precincts counted” on this election night, explaining, “with the high number of absentee ballots expected this year, the number of precincts counted no longer accurately represents how many votes have actually been counted.”
So, sit back, relax, and be patient. We will get through this election together.