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Apply for an absentee ballot for the January 5 US Senate runoff right now

Ballots must be in the hands of election officials by 7 p.m. on January 5.

ATLANTA — The nation's eyes have turned to Georgia, where the fate -- and control -- of the United States Senate lies in the balance. More specifically, the balance will be determined by the outcome of the runoff elections for the two U.S. Senate seats up for grabs in Georgia. 

As a result, the eyes of the entire nation are on Georgia, along with millions of dollars in campaign funds, which will be placed behind the candidates in the two Senate races on the ballot. 

Just like November's general election, absentee ballots will play a large part in the voting process. The state will allow absentee voting by mail and in person. 

According to the Georgia Secretary of State's office, the earliest date that county registrars may begin mailing absentee ballots for the January 5 runoff to Georgia citizens is Wednesday, November 18.

How do you apply for an absentee ballot?

The office of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, has updated its secure online portal at ballotrequest.sos.ga.gov, which allows access for registered Georgia voters to apply for absentee ballots directly, without having to mail in a paper application. 

In order to use the online portal, voters must submit their name, date of birth, the county in which they are registered to vote, and their Georgia driver's license number or official state identification number.

For authorized relatives assisting elderly or disabled family members, the previous absentee ballot application must still be used. That ballot application must be completed and returned to their county's registration office.

If a voter is age 65 or older, or is residing outside the United States, and has already previously requested that they receive absentee ballots for this entire election cycle, they do not have to fill out an absentee voter application. They will automatically receive a ballot for the runoff election.

Applications are permitted to be returned by mail, fax, as an email attachment, or in-person to your local county Board of Registrar's Office.

How do I fill out the paper form to apply for an absentee ballot in Georgia?

The Secretary of State's online portal also provides a link to a PDF version of the application, which may be filled out online before printing it out. Otherwise, the form may be printed out as a blank form to be filled out by hand.

In either event, the date of the upcoming election you are applying for would go at the top of the form -- the date of the upcoming runoff election: January 5, 2021.

This would be followed by your full name in Box 1, followed by your permanent home address as listed on your voter registration in Box 2.

If you do not want your ballot sent to your permanent, home address, then the address where you would like your ballot sent would go into Box 3 -- otherwise, that box would be left blank.

Your date of birth would go into Box 4.

Box 5 is only used for primary elections. For the January runoff election, it is left blank.

Place a current contact telephone number and email address into Box 6, in the event there is a problem with your ballot application, so that county officials may contact you, if necessary.

Box 7 is where you sign and date your application.

If you are assisting someone with their application -- usually a disabled relative -- then your printed name, followed by your signature would go into Box 8.

Box 9 is used in the event if you are requesting a ballot on behalf of someone who is either physically disabled or temporarily living outside of the county. 

This sometimes happens with parents requesting applications for college students or relatives requesting applications on behalf of individuals temporarily residing overseas or other places where they cannot access the application.

In Box 10, an applicant may indicate if they match one of the described conditions, and would like to receive a mail ballot for the remainder of the current election cycle, including runoff elections, without making another application. 

This includes those who are 65 and older, physically disabled, and uniformed service members or their dependents -- or other US citizens -- living overseas.

After completing the form and signing it, it must be returned to your local county's Board of Registrar's Office. This may be done via US Mail, fax, as an email attachment, or in-person.

You can find contact information for each county's board of registrars' office listed here.