Current through 2023-2024 Legislative Session Chapter 353
Section 21-2-381 - Making of application for absentee ballot; determination of eligibility by ballot clerk; furnishing of applications to colleges and universities; persons entitled to make application(a)(1)(A) Except as otherwise provided in Code Section 21-2-219 or for advance voting described in subsection (d) of Code Section 21-2-385, not earlier than 78 days or less than 11 days prior to the date of the primary or election, or runoff of either, in which the elector desires to vote, any absentee elector may make, either by mail, by facsimile transmission, by electronic transmission, or in person in the registrar's or absentee ballot clerk's office, an application for an official ballot of the elector's precinct to be voted at such primary, election, or runoff. To be timely received, an application for an absentee-by-mail ballot shall be received by the board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk no later than 11 days prior to the primary, election, or runoff. For advance voting in person, the application shall be made within the time period set forth in subsection (d) of Code Section 21-2-385.(B) In the case of an elector residing temporarily out of the county or municipality or a physically disabled elector residing within the county or municipality, the application for the elector's absentee ballot may, upon satisfactory proof of relationship, be made by such elector's mother, father, grandparent, aunt, uncle, sister, brother, spouse, son, daughter, niece, nephew, grandchild, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law of the age of 18 or over.(C)(i) Any person applying for an absentee-by-mail ballot shall make application in writing on the form made available by the Secretary of State. In order to confirm the identity of the voter, such form shall require the elector to provide his or her name, date of birth, address as registered, address where the elector wishes the ballot to be mailed, and the number of his or her Georgia driver's license or identification card issued pursuant to Article 5 of Chapter 5 of Title 40. If such elector does not have a Georgia driver's license or identification card issued pursuant to Article 5 of Chapter 5 of Title 40, the elector shall affirm this fact in the manner prescribed in the application and the elector shall provide a copy of a form of identification listed in subsection (c) of Code Section 21-2-417. The form made available by the Secretary of State shall include a space to affix a photocopy or electronic image of such identification. The Secretary of State shall develop a method to allow secure electronic transmission of such form. The application shall also include the identity of the primary, election, or runoff in which the elector wishes to vote; the name and relationship of the person requesting the ballot if other than the elector; and an oath for the elector or relative to write his or her usual signature with a pen and ink affirming that the elector is a qualified Georgia elector and the facts presented on the application are true. Submitting false information on an application for an absentee ballot shall be a violation of Code Sections 21-2-560 and 21-2-571.(ii) A blank application for an absentee ballot shall be made available online by the Secretary of State and each election superintendent and registrar, but neither the Secretary of State, election superintendent, board of registrars, other governmental entity, nor employee or agent thereof shall send absentee ballot applications directly to any elector except upon request of such elector or a relative authorized to request an absentee ballot for such elector. No person or entity other than a relative authorized to request an absentee ballot for such elector or a person signing as assisting an illiterate or physically disabled elector shall send any elector an absentee ballot application that is prefilled with the elector's required information set forth in this subparagraph. No person or entity other than the elector, a relative authorized to request an absentee ballot for such elector, a person signing as assisting an illiterate or physically disabled elector with his or her application, a common carrier charged with returning the ballot application, an absentee ballot clerk, a registrar, or a law enforcement officer in the course of an investigation shall handle or return an elector's completed absentee ballot application. Handling a completed absentee ballot application by any person or entity other than as allowed in this subsection shall be a misdemeanor. Any application for an absentee ballot sent to any elector by any person or entity shall utilize the form of the application made available by the Secretary of State and shall clearly and prominently disclose on the face of the form:
This application is being distributed by [insert name and address of person, organization, or other entity distributing such document or material], not by any government agency or any state or local election office. THIS IS NOT A BALLOT.'(iii) The disclaimer required by division (ii) of this subparagraph shall be: (I) Of sufficient font size to be clearly readable by the recipient of the communication;(II) Contained in a printed box set apart from the other contents of the communication; and(III) Printed with a reasonable degree of color contrast between the background and the printed disclaimer.(D) Except in the case of physically disabled electors residing in the county or municipality or electors in custody in a jail or other detention facility in the county or municipality, no absentee ballot shall be mailed to an address other than the permanent mailing address of the elector as recorded on the elector's voter registration record or a temporary out-of-county or out-of-municipality address. Upon request, electors held in jails or other detention facilities who are eligible to vote shall be granted access to the necessary personal effects for the purpose of applying for and voting an absentee ballot pursuant to this chapter.(E) Relatives applying for absentee ballots for electors must also sign an oath stating that facts in the application are true.(F) If the elector is unable to fill out or sign such elector's own application because of illiteracy or physical disability, the elector shall make such elector's mark, and the person filling in the rest of the application shall sign such person's name below it as a witness.(G) Any elector meeting criteria of advance age or disability specified by rule or regulation of the State Election Board or any elector who is entitled to vote by absentee ballot under the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, 42 U.S.C. Section 1973ff, et seq., as amended, may request in writing on one application a ballot for a presidential preference primary held pursuant to Article 5 of this chapter and for a primary as well as for any runoffs resulting therefrom and for the election for which such primary shall nominate candidates as well as any runoffs resulting therefrom. If not so requested by such person, a separate and distinct application shall be required for each primary, run-off primary, election, and run-off election. Except as otherwise provided in this subparagraph, a separate and distinct application for an absentee ballot shall always be required for any special election or special primary.(2) A properly executed registration card submitted under the provisions of subsection (b) of Code Section 21-2-219, if submitted within 180 days of a primary or election in which the registrant is entitled to vote, shall be considered to be an application for an absentee ballot under this Code section, or for a special absentee ballot under Code Section 21-2-381.1, as appropriate.(3)(A) All persons or entities, other than the Secretary of State, election superintendents, boards of registrars, and absentee ballot clerks, that send applications for absentee ballots to electors in a primary, election, or runoff shall mail such applications only to individuals who have not already requested, received, or voted an absentee ballot in the primary, election, or runoff. Any such person or entity shall compare its mail distribution list with the most recent information available about which electors have requested, been issued, or voted an absentee ballot in the primary, election, or runoff and shall remove the names of such electors from its mail distribution list. A person or entity shall not be liable for any violation of this subparagraph if such person or entity relied upon information made available by the Secretary of State within five business days prior to the date such applications are mailed.(B) A person or entity in violation of subparagraph (A) of this paragraph shall be subject to sanctions by the State Election Board which, in addition to all other possible sanctions, may include requiring such person or entity to pay restitution to each affected county or municipality in an amount up to $100.00 per duplicate absentee ballot application that is processed by the county or municipality due to such violation or the actual cost incurred by each affected county or municipality for the processing of such duplicate absentee ballot applications.(4) In extraordinary circumstances as described in Code Section 21-2-543.1, the registrar or absentee ballot clerk shall determine if the applicants are eligible to vote under this Code section and shall either mail or issue the absentee ballots for the election for representative in the United States Congress to an individual entitled to make application for absentee ballot under subsection (d) of this Code section the same day any such application is received, so long as the application is received by 3:00 P.M., otherwise no later than the next business day following receipt of the application. Any valid absentee ballot shall be accepted and processed so long as the ballot is received by the registrar or absentee ballot clerk not later than 45 days after the ballot is transmitted to the absent uniformed services voter or overseas voter, but in no event later than 11 days following the date of the election.(b) (1) Upon receipt of a timely application for an absentee ballot, a registrar or absentee ballot clerk shall enter thereon the date received. The registrar or absentee ballot clerk shall verify the identity of the applicant and determine, in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, if the applicant is eligible to vote in the primary or election involved. In order to verify the identity of the applicant, the registrar or absentee ballot clerk shall compare the applicant's name, date of birth, and number of his or her Georgia driver's license or identification card issued pursuant to Article 5 of Chapter 5 of Title 40 on the application with the information on file in the registrar's office. If the application does not contain the number of the applicant's Georgia driver's license or identification card issued pursuant to Article 5 of Chapter 5 of Title 40, the registrar or absentee ballot clerk shall verify that the identification provided with the application identifies the applicant. In order to be found eligible to vote an absentee ballot in person at the registrar's office or absentee ballot clerk's office, such person shall show one of the forms of identification listed in Code Section 21-2-417 and the registrar or absentee ballot clerk shall compare the identifying information on the application with the information on file in the registrar's office.(2) If found eligible, the registrar or absentee ballot clerk shall certify by signing in the proper place on the application and then:(A) Shall mail the ballot as provided in this Code section;(B) If the application is made in person, shall issue the ballot to the elector within the confines of the registrar's or absentee ballot clerk's office as required by Code Section 21-2-383 if the ballot is issued during the advance voting period established pursuant to subsection (d) of Code Section 21-2-385; or(C) May deliver the ballot in person to the elector if such elector is confined to a hospital.(3) If found ineligible or if the application is not timely received, the clerk or the board of registrars shall deny the application by writing the reason for rejection in the proper space on the application and shall promptly notify the applicant in writing of the ground of ineligibility, a copy of which notification should be retained on file in the office of the board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk for at least one year. However, an absentee ballot application shall not be rejected solely due to a mismatch between the identifying information of the elector on the application and the identifying information of the elector on file with the board of registrars. In such cases, the board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk shall send the elector a provisional absentee ballot with the designation "Provisional Ballot" on the outer oath envelope and information prepared by the Secretary of State as to the process to be followed to cure the discrepancy. If such ballot is returned to the board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk prior to the closing of the polls on the day of the primary or election, the elector may cure the discrepancy by submitting an affidavit to the board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk along with a copy of one of the forms of identification enumerated in subsection (c) of Code Section 21-2-417 before the close of the period for verifying provisional ballots contained in subsection (c) of Code Section 21-2-419. If the board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk finds the affidavit and identification to be sufficient, the absentee ballot shall be counted as other absentee ballots. If the board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk finds the affidavit and identification to be insufficient, then the procedure contained in Code Section 21-2-386 shall be followed for rejected absentee ballots.(4) If the registrar or clerk is unable to determine the identity of the elector from information given on the application or if the application is not complete or if the oath on the application is not signed, the registrar or clerk should promptly contact the elector in writing to request the necessary additional information and a signed copy of the oath.(5) In the case of an unregistered applicant who is eligible to register to vote, the clerk or the board shall immediately mail a blank registration card as provided by Code Section 21-2-223, and such applicant, if otherwise qualified, shall be deemed eligible to vote by absentee ballot in such primary or election, if the registration card, properly completed, is returned to the clerk or the board on or before the last day for registering to vote in such primary or election.(c) In those counties or municipalities in which the absentee ballot clerk or board of registrars provides application forms for absentee ballots, the clerk or board shall provide such quantity of the application form to the dean of each college or university located in that county as said dean determines necessary for the students of such college or university.(d)(1) A citizen of the United States permanently residing outside the United States is entitled to make application for an absentee ballot from Georgia and to vote by absentee ballot in any election for presidential electors and United States senator or representative in Congress:(A) If such citizen was last domiciled in Georgia immediately before his or her departure from the United States; and(B) If such citizen could have met all qualifications, except any qualification relating to minimum voting age, to vote in federal elections even though, while residing outside the United States, he or she does not have a place of abode or other address in Georgia.(2) An individual is entitled to make application for an absentee ballot under paragraph (1) of this subsection even if such individual's intent to return to Georgia may be uncertain, as long as:(A) He or she has complied with all applicable Georgia qualifications and requirements which are consistent with 42 U.S.C. Section 1973ff concerning absentee registration for and voting by absentee ballots;(B) He or she does not maintain a domicile, is not registered to vote, and is not voting in any other state or election district of a state or territory or in any territory or possession of the United States; and(C) He or she has a valid passport or card of identity and registration issued under the authority of the Secretary of State of the United States or, in lieu thereof, an alternative form of identification consistent with 42 U.S.C. Section 1973ff and applicable state requirements, if a citizen does not possess a valid passport or card of identity and registration.(e) The State Election Board is authorized to promulgate reasonable rules and regulations for the implementation of paragraph (1) of subsection (a) of this Code section. Said rules and regulations may include provisions for the limitation of opportunities for fraudulent application, including, but not limited to, comparison of voter registration records with death certificates.Amended by 2023 Ga. Laws 353,§ 2, eff. 7/1/2023.Amended by 2023 Ga. Laws 341,§ 2, eff. 7/1/2023.Amended by 2021 Ga. Laws 9,§ 25, eff. 7/1/2021.Amended by 2019 Ga. Laws 24,§ 27, eff. 4/2/2019.Amended by 2017 Ga. Laws 250,§ 16, eff. 7/1/2017.Amended by 2011 Ga. Laws 241,§ 1, eff. 7/1/2011.Amended by 2011 Ga. Laws 240,§ 10, eff. 7/1/2011.Amended by 2010 Ga. Laws 632,§ 18, eff. 7/1/2010.Amended by 2010 Ga. Laws 502,§ 2, eff. 7/1/2010.Amended by 2009 Ga. Laws 14,§ 1, eff. 4/21/2009.Amended by 2008 Ga. Laws 706,§ 10, eff. 7/1/2008.Amended by 2008 Ga. Laws 531,§ 3, eff. 5/12/2008.Amended by 2008 Ga. Laws 531,§ 2, eff. 5/12/2008.Amended by 2006 Ga. Laws 452,§ 1, eff. 4/14/2006.Amended by 2005 Ga. Laws 53,§ 51, eff. 7/1/2005.Amended by 2003 Ga. Laws 209, § 36, eff. 7/1/2003.Amended by 2001 Ga. Laws 164.Amended by 2001 Ga. Laws 165.