Early Voters in Georgia Face Obstacles Under the State’s New Election Law

Under Georgia’s new Election Integrity Act, citizens can challenge a voter’s eligibility on the voting rolls an unlimited number of times. Groups have put additional pressure on the election process for poll workers, election officials, and voters by mounting thousands of organized challenges across the state. Although most challenges have already been dismissed, more challenges are planned as early voting begins.

In most cases, the voter doesn’t know why their status is being challenged, leading to more confusion.

Voters in Georgia have been turning out in record numbers for the first week of early voting. Two critical elections, for the Senate and Governor, have spurred voters to the polls. As the election progresses, the effects of the state’s new election laws continue to unfold. Voter protection and election organizations across the state have been preparing for the new law. They have been working to educate voters as to what to do if they experience issues when voting.

Instructions from the secretary of state explain that counties granted poll workers the ability to verify a voter’s residence at the precinct and work in favor of the challenged voter. Poll workers can also have the voter sign a residency affirmation form. Once the voter completes the steps, the voter can then vote with a regular ballot.

Voter rights organizations: New law unclear

Voter rights organizations say miscommunication at the polls stems from Georgia’s new voting law. One aspect of the new law includes new rules related to provisional ballots. Despite widespread concern over the new law, voter turnout in the May primary rose across every gender, geography, and race.

The growth in turnout wasn’t uniform. Turnout was stronger among white voters than Black voters, and voter participation grew more in the Republican primary than in any Democratic race. However, political analysts said turnout doesn’t tell much about what will happen in the November midterms.

Recent numbers released by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office showed that in the first four days of early voting for the November election, Georgia voters exceeded turnout for the equivalent time period in 2018 and came close to numbers seen in the 2020 presidential election.

The Georgia Senate Bill 202 required a photo ID for people to obtain absentee ballots, limited the number of polling places, and made it more challenging to vote anywhere other than in the precinct where the voter lives.