Early voting for the upcoming general primary/non-partisan/special election will begin on Monday, May 2, 2022. The public should be aware of several changes to Georgia voting regulations that are now in place. These changes are the result of Georgia Senate Bill 202, which was passed in 2021.

Bulloch County Elections Supervisor Shontay Jones highlighted the most important changes for Grice Connect readers.

Absentee Ballot Drop Boxes

Absentee ballot drop boxes will now be open only during the hours of advance voting at the polling location and will be closed when voting hours end each day. The drop box will be closed for the election cycle when the advance voting period ends. This is a change from previous elections when drop boxes were open at any time.
Drop boxes will now also be located within advance voting locations, rather than outside. You may no longer drive up to the box to drop your ballot. During an emergency declared by the governor, drop boxes may be moved outside.

In addition, the boxes will now be under constant surveillance by an elections official or an appointed designee during all open hours. The boxes will have measures in place to reduce tampering and damages to ballots and must be clearly labeled as “Official Absentee Ballot Drop Box” on Georgia Secretary of State signage.

All Georgia counties must establish at least one absentee ballot drop box for voters to use but may establish more based on population or number of advance voting locations.

Provisional Ballots

Due to changes in the acceptance rules for provisional ballots, voters should double check their voting precinct prior to showing up to vote. A provisional ballot is one for which there are questions about a voter’s eligibility. These must be reviewed prior to the acceptance of that ballot.

If a voter must cast a provisional ballot and that voter both registered to vote on time and voted at his or her correct precinct, that provisional ballot will be counted and included in the county’s election results.

If a voter registered to vote on time but voted in the wrong precinct, certain conditions must be met for their provisional ballot to be counted. In such a situation, only a ballot cast by a voter between 5:00pm and the regular closing time of the polls on election day, with a sworn statement from the voter, will be reviewed. The sworn statement must confirm that the voter is unable to vote at his or her assigned precinct before the polls close and give reason why.

Poll workers are to notify any voter who shows up at the incorrect precinct and give them information on their correct precinct. Provisional ballots meeting review requirements will be sent to the State Election Board.

Restrictions on Campaign Activities

People may no longer pass out food or water to voters waiting in line at polling locations. This includes any area within the 150-foot boundary of the outer edge of a polling place and anywhere within 25 feet of any voter in line. Poll workers may provide self-service water to voters on-site at polling locations.

Early Voting Information

Early voting will be available from May 2-20, 2022, Monday to Friday, from 8am to 5pm each day. Saturday voting will be available on May 7 and 14, from 9am to 5pm. Early voting will take place at the Bulloch County Annex at 113 North Main Street. This is also the location of the absentee drop box.

The Honey Bowen satellite location will open from May, 16 through May 20, 2022 operating from 8am to 5pm Mon-Fri. The last week of Early Voting voters can vote at either Honey Bowen or the Bulloch County Annex.

Absentee ballot applications can be obtained on the Georgia Secretary of State website. Once the Bulloch Board of Elections has received your application, they can mail your ballot to the address you requested if it is outside of Bulloch County. If within Bulloch County, they must mail your ballot to the address at which you are registered to vote. (Physically disabled voters may provide an alternate address.) The Board of Elections is able to mail absentee ballots from April 25 to May 13 only.

Change of Address

Voter’s who are unsure if they changed their address with the Voter Registers Office, not through an address change with the post office, are encouraged to vote Early (as they have to have written consent by the voter to change or update their voting information), due to the Provisional OP change in the law per SB 202.

Key Dates for Upcoming Bulloch County Elections:

May 2, 2022 Early Voting begins (Monday-Friday, 8am to 5pm, Bulloch County Annex)
May 7, 2022 Saturday Voting (9am to 5pm, Bulloch County Annex)
May 13, 2022 Last day to submit absentee ballot application
May 14, 2022 Saturday Voting (9am to 5pm, Bulloch County Annex)
May 20, 2022 Early Voting ends; Absentee drop boxes close
May 24, 2022 General Primary/Non-Partisan/Special Election

You can check your voter registration status and precinct location, get an absentee ballot application, and view sample ballots on the Georgia Secretary of State’s MyVoterPage website at http://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.

Sample Ballot

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Whitney Lavoie

Whitney Turner Lavoie is a Statesboro native and freelance writer/editor. She is an active volunteer with her children’s school PTO and Girl Scouts of America. Whitney previously worked in health communications...