Student Voting Guide | Georgia

August 15, 2014

This student voter guide explains the laws for the state of Georgia.  If you wish to vote from your school address, check the student voter guide for the state in which you attend school.  If you are interested in casting an absentee ballot in your home state, check the student voter guide for that state.

The Brennan Center is committed to giving students as much information as possible to help you exercise your constitutional right to vote. More than ever in recent history, changes to voting laws are being implemented in ways that can affect your ability to make your vote count. . In addition to the content you will find in this Student Voting Guide, we continue to track passed and pending voting law changes here.  While we are working to give you up-to-date information, we urge you to be proactive! In order to ensure you have all the information you need before casting your vote, you should also check with your state and local election officials for information about additional requirements or regulations.

This voting guide was last updated August 15, 2014.


You must be 18 years old to vote but may register beginning six months before your 18th birthday.[1]

Georgia allows voter registration in person at a county registrar’s office, by mail, or online. To take advantage of the online voter registration system you must have a Georgia driver’s license or Georgia-issued ID card.

You must register to vote by the close of business on the fifth Monday before Election Day.[2]  For any election on a Tuesday, the registration deadline is 29 days before that election. You can find all of the key dates for the 2014 election at the Secretary of State’s website. If you mail in your registration, it must be postmarked by that date.[3]

If you have been convicted of a felony, it may impact your ability to vote. If you think you might be affected, you should contact local election officials.

You should always check your voter registration status well before the deadline; Georgia provides you the ability to do so online.

Georgia currently does not require any documentation with a voter registration application form.  While the state passed a law requiring people to provide documentary proof of citizenship when registering to vote,[4] it is not currently enforcing that requirement.


Georgia requires voters to be residents of the State and county where they register and intend to vote.[5] Your residency address is the place where your habitation is “fixed,” without a present intention to leave.[6] Voting residency therefore requires both physical presence and the intent to remain.

At School. If you move to a school address in Georgia with the intent of making it your fixed home, you can establish voting residency in Georgia.[7] If you move to a school address in Georgia, you can establish residency in Georgia if you have a present intention to remain at your Georgia school address for the time being, and intend to make it your principal home. An indefinite intention to move somewhere else at some future period will not prohibit you from establishing voting residency.[8] Any other interpretation of the residency laws is unconstitutional.[9] Likewise, any question or challenge made solely on the basis of your student or tuition status is invalid.[10]

At Home. Students who lived in Georgia before moving to another state for school, and who wish to establish or keep their Georgia voting residency (i.e., at their parents’ address), should have no problem doing so unless they have already registered to vote in another state. Like most states, Georgia allows students to keep their voting residency even if they move out of the county or state to attend school.[11] The only way you will lose this residency is if you “abandon” it by asserting residency in a new state. Registering to vote in another state[12] and voting in another state[13] will be considered abandonment of residency in Georgia. If you have established residency in another state and move back to Georgia with the intent to reside in Georgia, you will have to follow the normal registration procedures to re-register in Georgia.

Challenges to Residency. If the county board of registrars finds that you are ineligible to register to vote on the basis of residency, you will be notified by mail.[14] Additionally, another voter can challenge your eligibility when you apply for registration.[15] If another voter wants to challenge your registration, they have to do so in writing, giving specific grounds for the challenge.[16] The burden is on the challenger to prove that you are ineligible.[17] If your registration is questioned or challenged in either of the above ways, you will be given a hearing with at least three days’ notice where you can present evidence of your residency,[18] and you can appeal the decision to a court within ten days after the decision is made.[19]

Your eligibility can also be challenged by another voter before the election.[20] The challenge must be made in writing and must be made before you vote.[21] If you vote by absentee ballot, the challenge has to be made by 5:00 pm on the day before the election.[22] If there is time before the polls close, the board of registrars will hear the challenge and make a determination to either allow you to vote or to remove your name from the list of electors.[23] If there is not time before the polls close to hear the challenge, you can vote a challenged ballot and receive a full hearing after the election.[24] If the challenge is denied, your vote will be counted.[25] If the challenge is upheld, you can appeal that hearing to a court within ten days.[26]

Voting in Georgia may be considered a declaration of residency, potentially making you subject to other Georgia laws governing residents.[27]


All voters will be asked to show photo ID at the polls to vote a regular ballot.[28] Acceptable forms of photo ID include a Georgia drivers’ license (which can be expired), a valid U.S. passport, a valid employee ID card from the federal or any level of Georgia government, a military ID, a tribal identification card, or any other photo ID card issued by any agency of any state government or the federal government.[29]  If you attend a public college or university in Georgia, you can use your student ID.[30]

If you do not have any of these forms of identification, you can get a free Georgia Voter ID card from the county registrar’s office.[31] To get a Voter ID card, you will need to provide documents that show your legal name and date of birth, proof that you’re registered to vote in Georgia, and your name and address where you are registered.[32] A number of documents are accepted for this purpose. Note that if you change addresses you must surrender your card and acquire a new one with your new address. [33]

If you cannot show ID, you will have to vote a provisional ballot, which will be counted only if you provide one of the above forms of ID to your county registrar within three days after the election.[34]

Absentee Voting

Any voter can vote absentee in Georgia, including first-time voters.[35] You can request an absentee ballot online via email. The county board of registrars’ office must receive your absentee ballot by the close of the polls on Election Day.[36]

First-time voters who registered by mail and whose identities have not been verified by the state will have to include a copy of ID with their absentee ballots. Acceptable ID includes one of the forms of photo ID listed above, or a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document with your name and address on it.[37]

You must apply to vote absentee separately for each election, including any run-off elections that follow a primary election.[38]

Early Voting

As a convenience to voters, some counties in Georgia offer early voting through “advance voting” of an absentee ballot in person.[39] Advance voting begins on the fourth Monday prior to the election and ends on the Friday before the election.[40] You can check the Georgia Secretary of State’s website for the county-specific locations and hours of early voting.

Last Updated August 15, 2014.

[1] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-216(c).

[2] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-224(a).

[3] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-224(c).

[4] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-216(g).

[5] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-216(a).

[6] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-217.

[7] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-217(a)(1).

[8] Clark v. Hammock, 228 Ga. 157, 158 (1971) (quoting Smith v. Smith, 223 Ga. 551, 553 (1967)).

[9] See Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. 330, 330 (1972); Williams v. Salerno, 792 F.2d 323, 328 (2d Cir. 1986).

[10] Symm v. United States, 439 U.S. 1105, 99 S. Ct. 1006, 59 L. Ed. 2d 66 (1979).

[11] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-217(a)(2).

[12] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-217(a)(2).

[13] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-217(a)(13).

[14] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-226(d).

[15] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-229(a).

[16] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-229(a). 

[17] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-229(c).

[18] Ga. Code Ann. §§ 21-2-228(d) (hearing when the routine reassessment of voter rolls by the Board of Registers is undertaken); 21-2-229(b) (hearing when voter qualifications are specifically challenged).

[19] Ga. Code Ann. §§ 21-2-228(f); 21-2-229(e).

[20] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-230.

[21] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-230(a).

[22] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-230(a).

[23] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-230(h).

[24] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-230(i).

[25] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-230(i).

[26] Ga. Code Ann. §§ 21-2-230(i) (right of appeal from same-day challenges), 21-2-229(e) (procedure for appeal).

[27] Ga. Code Ann. §§ 40-5-20 (driver’s license); 40-2-20 (vehicle registration); 48-7-20 (income tax).

[28] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-417. 

[29] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-417(a). 

[30] Acceptable College Photo IDs, Ga. Sec’y of State,  Students who attend private colleges or universities cannot use their student ID and must provide one of the other acceptable forms of ID.  Id.

[31] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-417.1.

[32] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-417.1(e).

[33] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-417.1(f).

[34] Ga. Code Ann. §§ 21-2-417 (providing identification after Election Day), 21-2-419 (three day time limit).

[35] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-380(b).

[36] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-386(a)(1)(F).

[37] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-386(a)(1)(D).

[38] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-381(a)(1)(G).

[39] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-385(d)(1).

[40] Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-385(d)(1).