To get a general idea about who will be on your ballot, use this embedded tool provided by the Voting Information Project to easily see your voting information. However, please pay close attention to your polling places and whether they're early voting sites or election day sites as they can be different.
Furthermore, these websites will also generate a sample ballot, and they're great places to get information about candidates and their platforms.
President - The President is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America, and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. They are responsible for the execution and enforcement of the laws created by Congress. They can veto bills passed by Congress. They also appoint judges, ambassadors, and the Cabinet, grant pardons, and command the armed forces. The President is elected every 4 years.
Vice President - The Vice President 1st in line to the Presidency if anything were to happen to the President. The Vice President is also the President of the Senate, meaning they cast the tie-breaking vote when the Senate is split on a vote. They represent the President in public appearances and ceremonies and act as an advisor. They are elected every 4 years.
Senator - A Senator takes part in meetings and committees, debates over the creation or update of laws and regulations, and votes for or against certain political measures or motions. Two Senators are elected per state to serve a 6-year term.
Representative - A Representative serves the people of a specific congressional district. Among other duties, representatives introduce bills and resolutions, offer amendments, and serve on committees. Elected to a two-year term. The amount of representatives per state varies according to population.
Governor - The Governor is the executive leader of the state government. They sign legislation, pass executive orders, appoint leaders to various bureaucratic agencies, and (in Georgia) appoint State Supreme Court justices. The Governor is elected every 4 years in Georgia.
Lieutenant Governor - The Lieutenant Governor is second in command to the Governor and first in line to take his place if needed. In Georgia, the Lieutenant Governor is also the President of the State Senate. This position is elected every 4 years alongside the Governor.
Attorney General - The Attorney General (also called State Attorney) is the state's chief law enforcement officer. They oversee court cases and judges, enforcement of the law, and state law enforcement officials. In Georgia, the Attorney General is on the ballot every 4 years alongside the Governor.
Secretary of State - The Secretary of State is in charge of corporate and private licensing, elections administration and voter registration, and maintaining public records. In Georgia, the Secretary of State is elected every 4 years.
Georgia State Senator - The Georgia State Senate is the legislature's upper body, with 56 members. Each Senator is up for reelection in their local district every 2 years. In the legislature, these Senators pass legislation, form committees, and pass the state budget. They are also tasked with redistricting.
Georgia State Representative - The Georgia State House is the legislature's lower body, currently with 180 members. Each Representative is up for reelection in their local district every 2 years. In the legislature, these Representatives pass legislation, form committees, and pass the state budget. They are also tasked with redistricting.
State School Superintendent - The State School Superintendent is in charge of managing and instituting policies of the Georgia Department of Education, which runs K-12 education in Georgia. They are elected every 4 years alongside the Governor.
Commissioner of Agriculture - The Georgia Agricultural Commissioner leads the Georgia Department of Agriculture, which is tasked with regulating and promoting Georgia's agriculture industry. This seat is on the ballot every 4 years.
Commissioner of Labor - The Georgia Labor Commissioner runs unemployment, labor regulation, and rehabilitation services for Georgia employees. They are also the primary source for data on labor and employment. This position is reelected every 4 years.
Public Service Commissioner - The Public Service Commission is a 5 member body that is both legislative and executive. They regulate public utilities, including telecommunications, transportation, electricity, and gas. These positions are currently elected statewide every six years. However, current legal challenges regarding racial bias may divide this body into 5 voting districts to ensure equal representation.
Mayor - As the official spokesperson for the city government, the Mayor is responsible for the general management of the City and for overseeing the enforcement of all laws and ordinances. The Mayor presents the annual budget and annual report to the council and appoints department heads and members of advisory boards.
Council President - The Council President presides over all council meetings and votes in the case of a tie. Their duties include appointing chairs and members of various committees, who can be rejected by a majority of the city council. The council president exercises all powers and discharges all Mayor's duties in case of a vacancy or when the Mayor is unable.
Council Members Council Members make laws governing the City. They develop policies that serve as operational standards, establish the parameters for the city government's administration, and vote on recommendations by standing committees. Council Members are elected every 4 years.
Board of Education Members - The Board of Education Members set goals for the district by adopting policies, hiring and evaluating the superintendent, adopting the annual budget, and managing the district's collective bargaining process.
Superior Court Judge The Superior Court is responsible for handling cases involving serious crimes (felonies), civil disputes, real estate matters, and family and domestic relations issues. There are 202 judges on the Georgia Superior Courts, each elected by the people in nonpartisan elections to serve a 4-year term.
Magistrate Court Judge - The Magistrate Court (Civil Division) hears cases involving civil claims of $15,000 or less. Judges of the Georgia Magistrate Courts are either elected or appointed to terms of varying lengths. The elections for this court are contested partisan elections.
Probate Court Judge - The Probate Court has exclusive jurisdiction in the review and validation of wills, administration of estates, appointment of guardians, involuntary hospitalizations, and issuance of pistol and marriage licenses. Judges of the Georgia Probate Courts are each elected to 4-year terms. The elections for this court are contested partisan elections.
County Clerk - "Clerk of Court" is one of five elected county offices created by the Georgia Constitution. Each of Georgia's 159 counties has one. Clerks are the county's official record keepers—they receive and maintain criminal and civil court filings and serve as custodian of county land and property records. Clerks are elected in contested partisan elections.
Sheriff - A county sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer for a county, with duties including law enforcement, court protection, and jail administration. Sheriffs are elected in partisan elections and serve 4-year terms.
County Tax Commissioner - Elected by counties, tax commissioners oversee most phases of the taxing process — billing, collecting, processing, and distributing taxes. They are generally in charge of property taxes, solid waste fees, public utilities, and ad valorem taxes on motor vehicles (or renewing your vehicle). Elections take place in a partisan manner every 4 years.
Coroner The County Coroner is an official who is responsible for determining cause, manner, and circumstance of death under the Georgia Death Investigation Act. Coroners are elected to 4-year terms in their counties.
District Attorney - The District Attorney is the chief prosecuting officer for the State of Georgia within each of Georgia's 49 judicial circuits. The District Attorney represents the State of Georgia in the trial and appeal of felony criminal cases in the Superior Court for the judicial circuit, and delinquency cases in the juvenile courts. The District Attorney is elected to 4-year terms in partisan, circuit-wide races.
Solicitor General - In 65 of the 159 counties in Georgia, misdemeanor cases (cases where the maximum punishment cannot exceed 12 months in jail) are prosecuted by the Solicitor-General. The Solicitor-General is an elected county officer who represents the State of Georgia in the trial and appeal of misdemeanor criminal cases in the State Courts. The Solicitor-General is elected to 4-year terms in partisan, circuit-wide races.
County Commissioners - In a county commission form of government, a body of elected commissioners serves both the executive and the legislative duties. Terms of office and the number of commissioners are determined on a county by county basis.
City Council - A City Council is a legislative body that governs a city, town, municipality, or local government area. The council generally functions as a parliamentary or congressional style legislative body, proposing bills, holding votes, and passing laws to govern the city. Terms of office and the establishment of city councils vary based on the municipality.
CEO - A county's Chief Executive Officer is responsible for managing and supervising the county's departments and agencies and all county services, programs, and projects. They play a lead role in establishing the efficiency and effectiveness of county government. Elections vary by county.
What's a Referendum?
A referendum (plural: referenda) is a policy being put up for voters' approval. Past referenda in Georgia include implementing new taxes, adding to the state constitution, and creating a land conservation trust fund. Referenda are important because they can affect what taxes you pay, what services are available to you, and the local environment. Referenda are often written in legal language, which can be difficult to understand. It's also difficult to quickly assess all the consequences of a policy on the spot. It's recommended that you research any referenda that will be on your ballot before you go to vote, so you're able to make an informed decision.
You can learn more about referenda and other types of ballot measures here:
A: Votes are counted by each county, usually at the county elections office. The vote totals of mail-in and in-person ballots are combined and reported to the Secretary of State.
Q: What's the difference between a mail-in and absentee ballot?
A: An absentee ballot refers to the ballot sent to an absentee (a person who cannot vote in person) so they can send in their ballot by mail. Mail-in ballot refers to ballots given to citizens in states that allow all voters to vote by mail. An absentee ballot that is mailed is a type of mail-in ballot, but not all mail-in ballots are absentee ballots.
Q: Can I vote for both Senators in my state?
A: Yes, you can vote for both. Senators each represent the entire state and usually have staggered elections. This is why you usually wouldn't vote for both seats in the same election.
Q: Can I write in a candidate?
A: Yes, you can write in a candidate on your ballot instead of voting for a candidate on the ballot, but it is valuable to note a write-in candidate has never won an election in Georgia.
Q: What does the ballot machine do with my ballot? Is my vote being shredded?
A: The ballot machine accepts the paper with your QR/barcode on it. This machine scans and processes the information from the QR/barcode no matter which orientation the paper is entered. The paper you enter is technically your ballot, and it is being counted by the machine, not shredded.
Q: What does the QR code on my ballot mean?
A: The QR code on your paper is used to efficiently upload and count your ballot. When you scan your QR code on the machine, it will upload your votes on the paper ballot to the machine to be counted.
Q: What's going on with the late Representative John Lewis' seat?
A: The 5th Congressional District is holding a special election on September 29, and the winner will hold that Congressional district during November and December. Then, State Senator Nikema Williams (D) will be on the ballot in the November 3rd General Election in place of John Lewis - a group of Georgia Democrats selected her to be on the ballot after Rep. Lewis's passing.
Q: Was Kelly Loeffler elected? And why is it a "special" Senate race?
A: Kelly Loeffler was appointed to the Senate by Governor Kemp to replace Sen. Johnny Isakson, who retired due to the progression of his Parkinson's Disease. She will hold the seat until the special Senate election (and after, if she is elected.) There are no primaries for this election, so all Republicans and Democrats vying for this seat will be on the ballot in November. If a candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, they win. If not, the top two candidates (who could be of different parties or the same party) will face off in a January runoff.
Q: How does a candidate win in Georgia?
A: In Georgia, a candidate must receive 50% plus one to win. If one candidate gets twice as many votes as another but doesn't get more than 50% of votes, the candidates must go to a runoff. If the race is within a slim margin, the losing candidate has the option to challenge for a recount.