by Robin Kemp

If you have not yet registered to vote, if your registration has lapsed, or if your address has changed since the last time you voted, you have until 5 p.m. on Monday, October 5 to get registered to vote in the Nov. 3 Presidential election.

That election is a big one, not only because of the contest for the White House, but also because many federal and county seats, which usually have a more direct impact on you and your neighborhood, are up for grabs.

You can register to vote online using the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page at https://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/MVP/mvp.do.

You also can register to vote at any Clayton County Library, any City Hall in Clayton County, at the Board of Elections and Registration in the Historic Courthouse in Jonesboro, or by mail. However, given recent concerns about slower mail processing times, you might choose an alternate method.

You have the right to register to vote if you are:

  • citizen of the United States
  • A legal resident of Georgia and the county in which you wish to vote
  • At least 18 years of age by election day

However, if you are serving any sentence (including probation) for a felony conviction, or if a judge has declared you mentally incompetent, you are not allowed to vote. People who have completed their probation, parole, and other sentencing requirements on a convicted felony automatically have their voting rights restored. People who are in jail awaiting trial on a felony charge but who have not yet been convicted of a felony also have the right to vote. People who are on first offender parole for a felony can vote unless a judge declares a parole violation and revokes that parole.

You’ll need to bring a state-approved photo ID to register to vote. If you don’t have one, you can apply in person at the Elections and Registration Office for a free voter identification card, or you can get a free Georgia ID at the Department of Driver Services.

You must have that photo ID to vote in person on Election Day, in advance, or absentee. You do not need a photo ID to vote by mail.

State-approved IDs include:

  • Georgia driver’s license
  • Any valid state or federal government-issued photo ID (includes free Voter ID card from county registrar or Department of Driver Services)
  • Valid U.S. passport
  • Valid employee photo ID issued by any branch, department, agency, or entity of the United States government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority, or other entity of this state (includes any state college, university, or technical college photo ID)
  • Valid U.S. military photo ID
  • Valid tribal photo ID

If you have no valid ID and need a free Georgia Voter ID, you’ll need to bring ALL of these documents to either the registrar’s office at the Historic Courthouse in Jonesboro or to the Department of Driver Services:

  • An identity document, with or without a photo, that includes your full legal name and date of birth (for example, your birth certificate)
  • Documentation showing your date of birth
  • Evidence that you are registered to vote in Georgia
  • Documentation showing your name and address of principal resident

Even if you don’t have any of the acceptable forms of ID, you may cast a provisional ballot by swearing or affirming that you are the person identified in your voter’s certificate. Your ballot will be counted only if the registrars can verify current and valid ID within the time period for doing so.

If you have questions, or want to learn more about voting and elections in your area, visit https://www.claytoncountyga.gov/government/elections-and-registration or call (770) 477-3372.

You also can learn more about voting and why it’s important from your local library, the non-partisan League of Women Voters, or the NAACP.

Learn about the history of voting and voting rights in Georgia from the New Georgia Encyclopedia, which is written by professional historians and is a great resource for students.

Finally, if you need a little more inspiration, check out these winning videos from the Clayton County Teen Voting Video contest:

Vivian Huynh, 1st Place :

Ryan Rakestraw, 2nd Place:

Collin Fowler, 3rd Place:

Jamarcus Hill, 4th Place:

(If the kids of Clayton County get it, surely the adults can.)

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