While the law defines early election times from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the districts have the option of extending the opening times from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

ATLANTA – We continue to follow your questions – and get answers – when it comes to Georgia’s new electoral law. One of the questions asked is about the hours you will have to cast your votes in upcoming elections across the state.

THE QUESTION

Are voting times from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays set in stone or can they be extended?

THE ANSWER

We can check to see if there are any changes to the early election times that are now codified by the bill, but what that will look like will depend on the individual counties.

WHY WE REVIEW

There is a lot of confusion as to whether voting times have been changed or limited.

WHAT WE KNOW

Senate Bill 202 was enacted March 25th by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. According to the law, there were “significant differences across the state in the total number of pre-election hours by county”.

On page 59 of SB 202, preferred voting times are now set, references to “normal business hours” are deleted and added from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

According to Dr. Andra Gillespie, a political scientist at Emory University, is revising the bill for early voting and standardizing times across the state.

“This provision in SB 202 standardizes what early election times look like across the state. We take this for granted in Metro Atlanta, where most of our counties function pretty much the same, but in other parts of the state it’s not clear what normal business hours were when we voted early. “

However, the new law allows registrars to extend early voting times if they so wish.

“The general rule is to have an early voting time from 9 am to 5 pm,” said Gillespie. “The local registrar can decide if he’s open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.”

The law also prescribes two early voting days on Saturday, giving electoral registrars the option to add two voting days on Sunday.

However, the voting times on election day have not changed and remain from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“SB 202 standardizes early voting procedures across the state, which is a good thing,” said Gillespie. “But there is some discretion and I think the big question is how do local registrars exercise their discretion about when to pre-vote?”