Election Q&A

SB202 (Election Integrity Act of 2021)*

The Election Integrity Act of 2021, originally known as Georgia Senate Bill 202 (SB202), is the law which changed certain Georgia voting procedures. 

Changes to Absentee Voting

  • The earliest a voter can request a mail-in ballot will now be 11 weeks prior to election date as opposed to the initial 180 days. 
  • The deadline to complete the absentee ballot application will now be two Fridays before election day as opposed to one Friday before.
  • Counties will now mail out absentee ballots four weeks before the election, approximately three weeks later than before.
  • To request or return a ballot, there are new ID rules. All voters submitting an absentee ballot must provide one of the following: driver’s license number, state ID number, or another form of voter ID prescribed by federal law.
  • Voter signature match has been eliminated.
  • Absentee ballots will now have to be printed on special security paper with a precinct name and ID listed. 
  • Absentee ballot drop boxes are now located in every county- one for every 100,000 active voters. These drop boxes will be located inside early voting sites and will be only open during early voting days and hours. They are not available on Election Day!
  • State and local governments are no longer allowed to send unsolicited applications for absentee ballots.

Changes to Early Voting

  • The new SB 202 law expands voting in many counties. Counties can have early voting open from 7 am to 7 pm. Minimum hours are 9-5pm.
  • For Fulton Voters: Fulton voters can no longer use mobile voting buses to cast votes. 
  • During voting hours at polling locations, nobody other than poll workers are allowed to pass out food or water to voters within 150 feet of the building or within 25 feet of the polling line. There will be an unattended cooler of water within 150 feet of the building!
  • Counties must report how many people vote in person and how many absentee ballots were requested, received, accepted, and rejected daily. 
  • During a runoff, early voting will start as soon as possible and in-person early voting will be required from Monday through Friday the week prior to the election.

Changes to Vote Counting

  • Local officials can now begin to process absentee ballots up to 2 weeks before the election. 
  • Local officials are required to report the total number of early, absentee, and provisional ballots by 10 pm on election night. In other words, we will know how many votes are “out there” still to be counted on election day by 10pm.
  • Counties must finish tabulating votes by 5 pm of the day after the election.
  • Out of precinct provisional ballots won’t count unless they are cast after 5pm (meaning the VOTER did not have time to make it to their correct precinct in time). According to FairFight, there were 11,120 provisional ballots and 6,446 democratic provisional ballots were voted out of precinct in 2020.

Changes to County Operations

  • Counties must provide information regarding testing of voting machines and equipment used in the election. These tests must be public. By way of example, Fulton county announces their testing dates on their website fultoncountyga.gov.
  • Election offices can no longer receive direct funding from philanthropic groups. 
  • If polls have more than 2,000 people voting or a wait time of more than 60 minutes, the poll must hire more staff and add more workers. 

Changes to State Election Board

  • The Georgia Secretary of State is no longer the chair of the State Election Board, and the chair will instead be chosen by the majority of the State House and Senate. If there is no chair and the legislature is out of session, the Governor will appoint a replacement chair.
  • The State Election Board now have the power to step in on county election boards that under perform. 
  • SEB/SOS office may not enter settlement agreements without notifying the legislature.

*Nothing herein is intended as legal counsel or advice.  This is a lay summary of passed legislation for general education purposes only.


Source: https://www.gpb.org/news/2021/03/27/what-does-georgias-new-voting-law-sb-202-do