Voter registration deadline is April 21

By David Pendered

Monday, April 21, is the deadline to register to vote in the May 20 primary elections.

April 21 is the deadline to register to vote in the May 20 primary election and receive the "I'm a Georgia Voter" sticker.

April 21 is the deadline to register to vote in the May 20 primary election and receive the “I’m a Georgia Voter” sticker.

The deadline for voter registration is much earlier than usual because the date of the primary election has been moved up from mid summer to May 20. The date of any needed runoff elections is July 22.

In aligning the date of state and local elections with a court-ordered date for federal elections, the legislature also changed deadlines for campaign financial disclosure reports, which are important to those who follow campaigns.

Voters can register on line through a website of the Georgia Secretary of State. The site also allows voters to check their status and confirm polling location, and view a sample ballot.

County offices of voter registration still handle paper registrations. Their websites typically link to the secretary of state’s office to download and print an application.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp issued a statement Monday reminding of the deadline on April 21:

“Every Georgia should have the opportunity to vote in the May 20th primary election. The new news is that it is easier than ever to get registered to vote or to change your registration information.”

Kemp’s office provides a site to register to vote.

Kemp’s office provides additional voting information on this site.

The earlier elections dates stem from a lawsuit the U.S. Justice Department filed against Georgia regarding federal elections.

The lawsuit contended that overseas voters and military voters didn’t have time to cast absentee ballots in run-off elections that were held three weeks after the date of primary and general elections. The ruling ordered that ballots had to be postmarked at least 45 days before the elections.

Georgia lawmakers voted this year to align the date of state and local elections with the date of federal elections. State Rep. Joe Wilkinson (R-Atlanta) sponsored House Bill 310, which provided for a number of date changes that are significant for those who track political activities. The bill altered:

  • Dates for primaries and elections and runoff elections;
  • Dates for qualifying for office and for calling certain elections;
  • Times for filing certain campaign financing disclosure reports and related matters.

The timing of the bill’s passage is of note, particularly in light of the governor’s comment when he signed the bill.

The governor said in a statement released after Deal signed the bill:

  • “The General Assembly acted swiftly on this issue, and I have as well, so that local election officials and candidates can prepare. Given the federal mandate that we move up our primary date for federal elections, this is the best move for voters’ time and taxpayers’ money.”

HB 310 was introduced Feb. 12, 2013 and the House passed it March 4, 2013. The Senate passed an amended version Jan. 14, 2014. The House agreed to the Senate’s amendments on Jan. 17 and sent it, in an un-expedited fashion, to the governor on Jan. 21. Deal signed it the day he received it.

About David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with nearly 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.
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