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Election Law @ Moritz Home Page

Election Law @ Moritz

Election Law @ Moritz

2008 Key Questions for Key States


The complete research by Election Law @ Moritz for Georgia can be found below.

Institutional Arrangements

State Chief Election Authorities

Elected individual (R)

Chief election authority: Secretary of State. Code Ann., § 21-2-50.

Method of selection: Elected. Const. Art. 5, § 3.

Current officer: Karen Handel (R). 2006 Georgia Election Results (Last updated 1/1/08)

State High Court Composition

Unknown affiliation/elected

Method of selection: Nonpartisan election. Const. Art. 6, §§ 6, 7. Unexpired terms are filled by gubernatorial appointment.

Justices: Leah Sears (appointed by Miller (D)), Carol W. Hunstein (appointed by Miller (D)), Robert Benham (appointed by Harris (D)), Justice George H. Carley (appointed by Miller (D)), Justice Hugh P. Thompson (appointed by Miller (D)), Justice P. Harris Hines (appointed by Miller (D)), Harold Melton (appointed by Perdue (R)) (Last updated 12/20/07)


  • A real plan is necessary to confront illegal immigration, Macon Telegraph, October 9, 2006.
  • Nonpartisan seat sparks heated race, Macon Telegraph, June 21, 2004.
  • Justices of the Georgia Supreme Court, AP Alert – Georgia, June 28, 2005.
  • Looking ahead, Perdue Outlines Next Four Years, Augusta Chronicle (GA), January 9, 2007.  

Voter Registration

EL@M did not research this topic for Georgia


Election day challenges

Challenged voter may cast a "challenged" ballot

Any elector of a county or municipality may challenge the right of another voter of the same county or municipality to vote in an election.  The challenge may be made prior to the voter casting a ballot and must specify the grounds upon which the challenge is made in writing.

The board of registrars shall immediately consider whether probable cause exists to sustain the challenge.  If it does, the board will notify the poll officers at the voter’s precinct.  A challenged voter shall be given the opportunity to answer the challenge.  If possible, a hearing will be held the same day; but if such a hearing is not possible, the voter shall be allowed to cast a ballot which is held separately as a “challenged ballot.”  A hearing must be held prior to the certification of returns by the election superintendent.   O.C.G.A § 21-2-230.

Georgia allows the appointment of partisan poll watchers.  O.C.G.A § 21-2-408.

Updated 11/4/08

Provisional Ballots

Provisional ballot - name not in poll book

Ballot will count if voter was registered and eligible

If the registrar determines that the individual timely registered to vote and was eligible and entitled to vote in the primary, then the provisional ballot shall be counted.  OCGA  21-2-419(c)(1).

Updated 11/4/08

Provisional ballot - voter cast ballot in wrong precinct

Ballot will not be counted

If the voter voted in the wrong precinct, the election superintendent shall count those votes cast in races the voter was entitled to vote for and ignore those votes cast in races in which the voter was not entitled to vote. OCGA 21-2-419(c)(2)

Updated 11/4/08

Provisional Ballot Casting Rate - 2006

.25-.5 percent of ballots cast at polls


Updated 11/4/08

Provisional Ballot Counting Rate - 2006

50-60 percent


Updated 11/4/08

Early and Absentee Voting

EL@M did not research this topic for Georgia

Voting Technology

EL@M did not research this topic for Georgia

Polling Place Operations

Polling place closing times - local times

7:00 PM local time

Polling place closing times - by Eastern time zone

7:00 PM Eastern time

Ballot Security

Voter ID requirements

Photo ID required

Georgia voters must present proper photo identification in order to vote.  O.C.G.A § 21-2-417(a).

Proper identification may consist of (1) A Georgia driver’s license; (2) a valid Georgia voter identification card or other identification card issued by any government entity with a photograph; (3) A valid U.S. passport; (4) A valid employee identification card with photograph issued by a government entity; (5) A valid United States military identity card with photograph; (6) a valid tribal identification card containing a photograph.

Updated 11/4/08

Consequences of failure to present ID

Voters must cast provisional ballot

If a voter is unable to provide proper identification he or she may cast a provisional ballot upon swearing or affirming that the voter is the person identified in the elector’s certificate.  O.C.G.A § 21-2-417 (b).

Updated 11/4/08

Follow-up required of voter

Voter must return with ID

The voter must present valid identification to the County Registrar no later than two days following the closing of polls for the provisional ballot to count.  O.C.G.A § 21-2-417(b) and O.C.G.A § 21-2-419(c).

Updated 11/4/08

Emergency Preparedness

What if touchscreens break down?

Poll workers can create makeshift ballots

Georgia provides that paper ballots can be used if a voting machine breaks down during the election and it cannot be repaired or substituted.  Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-326(b).  The paper ballots can be written, printed, or in “any suitable form.” 

Updated 11/4/08

Post-Election Processes

What Court Would Hear a Presidential Contest?

Trial Court

Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-523 provides that both primary and general election contests shall be filed in the superior court of the county in which the defendant resides. Where no Presidential candidate lives in Georgia, a candidate-plaintiff can file the lawsuit against a local election administration to place jurisdiction in that locale. Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-520; Ollila v. Graham, 126 Ga.App. 288, 289 (Ga.App. 1972). Superior courts are a type of local trial court. All superior court judges are elected on a nonpartisan basis for a term of four years. See Ga. Const., Art. 6, § 7, para. 1. 

Who Performs Presidential recounts?


Georgia law says only that the Secretary of State “shall direct the recount be performed in all counties in which electors voted for such office and notify the superintendents of the several counties….” § 21-2-495. However, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, recounts are conducted by county election superintendents and their staff. There is no explicit requirement that there be any party balance in the individuals conducting recounts.

The Georgia administrative code provides no further information. See GA ADC 183-1-15-.01 et seq; 590-8-1-.01 et seq. Neither does the Secretary of State's website.

The “superintendent” is “either the judge of the probate court of a county or the county board of elections, the county board of elections and registration, the joint city-county board of elections, or the joint city-county board of elections and registration, if the county has such.” § 21-2-2. County probate judges are elected. § 15-9-1.

Georgia allows local legislators to create various types of boards of elections at their option, and does not prescribe whether these must be elected or appointed positions, or otherwise. § 21-2-40; 21-2-45. Candidates and political party leaders may be present at the recount, at least in some circumstances. § 21-2-495.