This section includes words to know.

Absentee Voting

Definition: Absentee Voting

Voting absentee means filling out a paper ballot and sending it (or taking it) to your county Election Office. Absentee voting is a great option if you need extra time, want to avoid lines, or cannot get to your polling place on election day.

To vote absentee, you must be registered to vote and request an absentee ballot. The state determines the due date. The absentee ballot will not be sent to you automatically. You do not need a reason to vote absentee.

Absentee voting can be involved, but it is an important option. You can find detailed instructions below in “Absentee Voting Step by Step.”

  • You can cast your absentee vote in person at your county election office. When you do so, you must show a valid photo ID or Georgia voter ID, or provide other ID. You can find election offices in your county at My Voter Page.

  • Absentee ballots must be received by the close of business day on Election Day. Send it in early! Your vote will not count if the ballot is postmarked on Election Day.

Absentee Voting Step by Step

The process for voting absentee has gotten more complicated since voting law changed in 2021. Here are the steps.

A: Applying for an absentee ballot

  1. Apply for an absentee ballot.  You can do this online. Print, complete, and sign the application. Make sure to include the following: the date of the election; your birthdate; and an ID number from your state ID, passport, or other acceptable ID as explained in the instructions that come with the application.

  2. Submit the application to your county Election Office. You can mail it OR take it there in person. You can also send a photo or scan of the completed application to your Election Office.

  3. You can find out if your application has been received by checking My Voter Page. Check your county Election Office to find out when absentee ballots will be mailed.

    Your absentee ballot comes in the mail, so make sure to apply and complete the application as early as possible.

B: Completing an absentee ballot

  1. When your ballot arrives, the packet includes four things: instructions; a ballot; a white envelope; and a yellow envelope. Read the instructions! Ask a friend or caretaker if you need help. There are also instructions at the top of the ballot page.

  2. Fill out the ballot. To select a candidate, fill in the bubble by the candidate's name completely using black or blue pen. Make sure to let the ink dry before folding the ballot. Double-check to make sure you choose all the candidates you want to select.

  3. Fold the ballot and place it in the white envelope marked Official Absentee Ballot. Seal the envelope.

  4. Place the white envelope in the yellow envelope. You must use the yellow envelope, not one of your own envelopes.

  5. Under the flap on the reverse side of the yellow envelope: (a) sign the Voter Oath and (b) print your name. ( c ) Write your birth date (mm/dd/yyyy). (d) Write the number of your Georgia driver’s license or state ID number OR the last four digits of your social security number.

  6. If you need a replacement absentee ballot, keep your and materials, and ask your Election Office for another copy of the absentee ballot.

If someone helped you, there is a box for that person to complete on the reverse side of the yellow envelope.

Use the checkbox on the back of the envelope to make sure your packet is complete.

C: Submit your absentee ballot. You have three ways to submit the ballot:

  • Mail it. If you mail it, get it in early! The absentee ballot must receive it by 7:00 pm on Election Day. Make sure to put enough stamps on the envelope.

  • Hand it in. You can also take your ballot at your Election Office during office hours. They will give you an “I voted” sticker.” To find out the hours when the office is open, use My Voter Page.

  • Drop box. You can submit your ballot using a Drop Box during the Early Voting period. You do not need stamps to do this. (Read Drop Box for important information about the hours and locations of drop boxes in your county.)

Additional Resources


Definition: Ballot

A list of Candidates you can vote for in an election.

The Branch Politics web site lets you see who will be on your ballot this year and what ballot measures you can vote for. You can print your ballot, mark your choices, and bring the list to your polling place if you vote in person or your election office if you vote early. 

You can also see a sample ballot at My Voter Page (MVP) and on BallotPedia. As with Branch, you can print and mark up your ballot and then use it as a guide when you vote.

The Branch, Ballotpedia, and MVP sites show you the candidates at all levels (for example, US Senate candidates, Georgia Senate candidates, and candidates running for office in your county).

Ballots sometimes include ballot measures. A ballot measure is a proposed change, or amendment, to Georgia’s constitution. Georgia’s constitution is the document that determines how Georgia is governed and how laws are made in the state. The General Assembly in Atlanta decides whether proposed changes to the constitution are on the ballot. On My Voter Page, ballot measures are listed at the end of your sample ballot. Talk to a trusted friend or family member if you have questions about ballot measures.

If you want to fill out your ballot absentee, you can apply for an absentee ballot

Board of Elections

Definition: Board of Elections

Every county in Georgia has a Board of Elections (also called “Election Office” or “Board of Registrar’s Office”). The people in this group are responsible for organizing elections, maintaining the polling place on Election Day, and protecting the rights of voters. If you need special assistance on Election Day, people at your county Board of Elections can help.

Contact information for your Board of Elections


Definition: Candidate

A candidate is someone who wants to become an Elected Official.


Definition: Congress

In the United States, Congress makes laws for the whole country. 

Congress has two parts: the Senate and the House of Representatives. Georgia has two US Senators in Congress as well as 14 members of the House of Representatives.

Learn more about the US Congress.

See Terms to find out how long Senators and Members of the House of Representative serve in office. Elections are held when an elected official’s term is over. 

The state of Georgia’s law-making body, the General Assembly, also has two parts, or houses: the Georgia State Senate and the Georgia House of Representatives. Georgia’s current Senators and Members of the House of Representative.


Definition: Dropbox

A big, secure container where you can leave your ballot when you take part in Early Voting or cast an Absentee vote. Drop Boxes are available only during the Early Voting period (October 17-November 4). The drop box you use must be in your own county!

To find out the location(s) of drop boxes in your country, go to My Voter Page. Click My Polling Location. At the bottom of the page you will see a button to click to find the address of local drop boxes.

If you plan to use a Drop Box, use your Voter Plan and write down the address and hours of a convenient drop box in your county.

Under Georgia’s election law, there are now fewer drop boxes in Georgia’s cities. Every county must have at least one drop box.

Here are a few important details about drop boxes:

  • If you vote early, not every voting location has a drop box. Locations with a drop box can only be used during the early voting period (October 17-November 4).

  • All drop boxes are located in government buildings. You can only use a drop box when the government building is open. Drop boxes are not available 24 hours a day!

  • Remember that using a Drop Box means you will have to get out of the car. Make transportation arrangements if you will need a ride.

Finally, rules about drop boxes may be a little different in your county. Check with your county’s election office (Board of Elections) for more information.

General information about Drop Boxes

Early Voting

Definition: Early Voting

When you vote early, you can vote in person at any approved election office in your county between October 17 until November 4. Accommodations are provided for people who have difficulty seeing, use a wheelchair, or have other challenges. Ask a poll worker if you need accommodations or have questions.

Early voting is the same thing as advanced voting and in-person absentee voting.

The ballot you use in early voting is the same as the one you use for in person voting on Election Day. Polls have audio ballots and other accommodations for people who need them. Use My Voter Page to find out where and when you can vote early in your county. (Click My Polling Location. At the bottom of the page you will see a button to click to find out the addresses and directions to your Early Voting locations.)

If you vote early, make sure to bring a valid photo ID such as a driver’s license, passport, or voter ID card.

Use My Voter Page to verify that your early vote was counted.

Learn more about early voting in person.

Elected Official

Definition: Elected Official

A person chosen by voters to take responsibility for running part of the county, state, or US government


Definition: Elections

An organized way for registered voters to choose Elected Officials in their county and state — and in the country as a whole.

There are three types of elections: Primary Elections, General elections, and Runoff Elections.

Election Day

Definition: Election Day

The official day for voting in the General Election.

Electoral College

Definition: Electoral College

Voters do not directly elect candidates for President. Instead, Presidents are chosen by the Electoral College, a group of people selected by political parties before the General Election.

The number of electors in a state is based on how many members of Congress the state has. Georgia has 16 electoral votes because it has 2 Senators plus 14 Members of the House of Representatives. 

There are 538 Electoral votes in the Electoral College. The candidate with the most votes in the Electoral College (at least 270) becomes President. If no candidate wins 270 electoral votes, the House of Representatives chooses the President and the Senate chooses the Vice President. 

So, does your vote for President matter? Yes. In Georgia, as in most states, the candidate who wins the most votes gets all the electoral votes in the state. 

As a voter, you can vote in Primary, General, and Runoff Elections but not in the Electoral College. 

More about the Electoral College

General Election

Definition: General Election

In a General Election, voters decide which party’s candidate will serve in elected offices. General elections take place in early November. 


Definition: Governor

The highest Elected Official in a state.

In-Person Voting

Definition: In-Person Voting

When you vote in person, you vote at your local Polling Place on Election Day. You can find the address of your polling place using My Voter Page or your Precinct Card. .

On Election Day, you can vote in person between 7 am and 7 pm. You must bring a valid ID

People at the polling place are poll workers. They can answer your questions about how to complete the ballot and how to use the voting machines. They can also help with any accommodations you need. They cannot answer questions about candidates.

Photo ID

Definition: Photo ID

A paper or card with your picture and other information about you

There are several types of valid ID in Georgia.

Political Party

Definition: Political Party

In the US the two largest political parties are the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. You don’t have to be a member of a party to vote for a candidate for that party. Plus, on your ballot you can vote for a combination of Democratic and Republic candidates.

Political parties have different beliefs, or positions, about the important issues that matter to people with disabilities, such as jobs, education, health care, accessible transportation, and affordable housing. 

When there are elections, each party usually has one candidate for each elected official. 

Polling Place

Definition: Polling Place

The place in your county where you vote in person on Election Day. Polling places are often in schools and community centers. You can find your polling place on your precinct card and on My Voter’s Page.

Your in-person vote will not count if you do not vote in the correct polling place!

Georgia recently outlawed the use of mobile voting centers.


Definition: Precinct

When you register to vote, you are assigned to a precinct. This is the headquarters of your official election district. It is based on where you live. The address of your precinct is printed on your precinct card If you vote in person. You can also find your precinct using My Voter Page

If you vote In Person, you vote in your precinct’s polling place. 

Precinct Card

Definition: Precinct Card

When you register to vote, your county mails you a precinct card, which has the address of your polling place.

It can take four or more weeks after registering to receive this card. 

You do not need to bring the card when you vote in person. 

You can access information about your precinct at My Voter Page. Online, you can check the "Email My Precinct Card" option and have your card emailed to you. Contact your Board of Elections if you need help getting a precinct card.

Primary Election

Definition: Primary Election

In a Primary Election, voters choose who will be their party’s candidates for elected office. These candidates Run for Office against candidates from other others in the general election. 

Each major political party has its own primary election.

You can vote in only one primary election.

Purged Voter

Definition: Purged Voter

Voters are purged when their name is removed from the list of registered voters. Reasons for purging include not voting for several elections and not updating your voter registration if you change your address or your name. To keep getting purged, make sure to vote in every election and to update your voter registration when your information changes.

You can make sure your voter registration status is active at My Voter Page.

What happens if your name is purged? There are several things you can do if your name is inactive:

Remember: If your name has been purged, you can re-register to vote (see Register to Vote). Your county Board of Elections can give you advice if you have questions.

Register to Vote

Definition: Register to Vote

Registering to vote is how you get on the list of people who can vote in your state. In Georgia you can register in person, online, or by mail. You can register if you are a US citizen, a resident of Georgia, at least 18 years of age, and not serving a sentence as a felon.

You can also register at Vote.

To check your registration status, visit My Voter Page. If you are registered, you’ll see a green checkmark when you look up your name. If your status is “inactive” or “purged,” see Purged Voters.

If you change your name or address, you need to update your voting registration.

After registering you have a choice of how to vote: In Person Voting, Absentee Voting, or Early Voting.

For More information on…


Definition: Representative

In the US people vote for candidates to represent them in government. Officials who represent you speak for you and defend your interests Representatives have staff members who can answer your questions about the details of government and the issues that matter to you. 

In the US, Representatives (together with Senators) serve in Congress in Washington, DC. In Georgia, laws are made by the General Assembly in Atlanta. Georgians have representatives – Senators and Representatives – in Atlanta.

Right to Vote

Definition: Right to Vote

You can vote in this country if you are 18 years of age by election day and a US citizen. To vote in Georgia you must also be a resident of the state.

For people with disabilities, voting is a right protected by laws. According to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a person with disabilities can receive assistance from a person of his or her choice. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 requires that polling places make voting accessible to people with disabilities. These and other laws also make it illegal to restrict people’s right to vote on account of their race, gender, or disability 

Run For Office

Definition: Run for Office

Someone who wants to be an Elected Official runs for office. Another word for “run” is “campaign.” Running for office means giving speeches, holding debates, creating ads, creating a website, going door to door, talking to people, and much more. It’s a big job! When they run for office, candidates explain their ideas and try to persuade people to vote for them. 

Runoff Election

Definition: Runoff Election

An election that’s held again because no candidate for office won a majority (more than half) of the votes. Early Voting for runoff elections starts the fourth Monday before the election date.

In 2022, for example, neither candidate won a majority in the Senate race, so a runoff was held between the Democratic candidate (Raphael Warnock) and the Republican candidate (Herschel Walker). Just as in the general election, voters in the runoff election could request an absentee ballot. They could also vote early.  


Definition: Senator

In the US laws are made by Congress. The Senate is part of Congress. Every state gets two votes in the Senate. In 2023, Georgia’s two Senators were Democrats: Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. 


Definition: Term

How long an elected official stays in office.

The US president’s term is four years. 

In the US Congress a senator’s term is six years. A Member of the House of Representative’s term is two years.

The governor of Georgia’s term is four years, and the governor can be elected for one additional term.

In the Georgia House of Representatives and Georgia Senate, the term is two years. 

A midterm election takes place halfway (two years) into the US president’s term.

Voter ID Card

Definition: Voter ID Card

The state of Georgia offers free Voter ID cards for people who do not have another type of photo ID. To get a card, you can visit or write your county’s registrar’s office (Board of Elections) or the Georgia Department of Drivers’ Services.

To receive a voter identification card, the voter must provide:

  • A photo identity document or approved non-photo identity document that includes full legal name and date of birth

  • Documentation showing the voter's date of birth

  • Evidence that the applicant is a registered voter in Georgia

  • Documentation showing the applicant's name and residential address


Definition: Voting

Voting is a way of choosing Elected Officials. The candidate with the most votes in an election wins and takes responsibility for the office.

Voting is a way people with disabilities can use their stories, wisdom, and experiences to influence laws and policy decisions in local and state communities and in the US. 

The three ways to vote in Georgia are Absentee Voting, Early Voting, and In Person Voting. 

Voting Accessibility

Definition: Voting Accessibility

Voters with disabilities face challenges at every step of the voting process, from registering to vote to casting a ballot. Federal laws require that the entire voting process be accessible to people with disabilities. The US Election Assistance Commission (EAC) writes guidelines and provides resources so that local election officials comply with federal laws.

The following accommodations and provisions for people with disabilities are required by law in Georgia:

  • The following paths must be clear and accessible: from the parking lot to polling place, from the entrance to the registration table, and from the registration table to the voting booth

  • People with visual disabilities have access to screens that read text aloud or display ballots in large print. Voting machines have a tactile mode for voters with limited mobility or who cannot see the screen. People with visual impairments also have the right to use on app on their phone to read their ballots aloud before casting it.

  • In audio mode, the visual display can be masked and the voter uses headphones to navigate an audio ballot using one of the available accessibility devices.

  • Every polling place has at least one touchscreen to allow voting while seated or in a wheelchair.

  • Poll workers are required to offer assistance if a voter is unable to see or mark the ballot, operate the voting equipment, or enter the voting booth without assistance.

  • People with disabilities do not have to wait in line on election day between the hours of 9:30 am and 4:30 pm.

  • People with disabilities may bring a person of their choice to help them vote.

If you need special assistance or accommodations when you vote or need someone to help you vote, make sure to include the details in your Voting Plan. The law protects your right to choose anyone you want – except your employer – to help you complete your ballot.

What if you run into accessibility problems? (1) Ask a poll worker. (2) You can also call the Georgia Advocacy Office at (800) 537-2329 or (404) 885-1234. (3) Or, you can call the Election Protection Hotline:

  • English: 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683)

  • Español: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-888-839-8682)

General resources

Voting Plan

Definition: Voting Plan

Your Voting Plan is a document you create (using paper or a word processor) with the following important information: 

  • HOW you will vote (In Person, Early, Absentee)

  • WHO you will vote for (you can print out a sample ballot at Branch Politics)

  • WHERE you will vote (if you vote early or in person). If you will use a Drop Box, include the address of the Drop Box. If you vote early, find the address of a convenient early voting location. If you vote in person, find the address of your precinct’s polling place 

  • HOW you will get to the polling place (if you vote in person at a polling place or election office)

  • Who will Help you, if you will need assistance with In Person or Early Voting. Also include details about accommodations you need, like a voting machine that displays your ballot in large letters.

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