Editor’s note: The author of this article, Tom Hand, is chairman of the Bryan County Elections Board.
Hello Bryan County. We are now just 54 days away from the midterm elections on Nov. 8, 2022. To better inform our county’s voters and to encourage more people to vote, the Elections Team of Bryan County will be running a series of articles pertaining to the upcoming election.
Most importantly, to vote in Georgia in the November election, you must be registered to vote by Oct. 10. To be eligible to vote in Georgia, you must meet three requirements: be a citizen of the United States, be at least 18 years of age, and be a legal resident of Georgia.
You must also possess a government issued photo ID. These include a Georgia driver’s license or ID card, a U.S. passport, and a U.S. military ID card.
In Georgia, registered voters are allowed to vote in one of three ways. First, there is absentee or mail-in voting. To vote by this method, a voter must submit an absentee ballot application by Friday, Oct. 28. You can do this online, by mail, by phone, or in-person. In the May 2022 primary, 3 percent of Bryan County voters voted by absentee ballot.
Mail in or absentee voting first started during the Civil War when so many of our forefathers were away from home fighting the war. At first, the right to vote with a mail-in ballot was only extended to military members and even that was not allowed in some states. In the 1990s, the right to vote by absentee ballot was extended to all citizens.
The second way to vote is early in-person at a county polling location. In Bryan County, you can vote in-person early in two places: the Richmond Hill Recreation Center and Pembroke City Hall. These two locations will both operate from Oct. 17 to Nov. 4. The hours are Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In the May 2022 primary, 46% of Bryan County voters voted early in-person.
Interestingly, early voting has been with us since our founding era. Back then, voting was held over several days to accommodate rural voters who had to travel in from outlying areas to vote. In mid-1800s, laws were passed that discouraged early voting and required an excuse to cast your ballot before election day. That started changing in the 1980s and is getting more popular with every election.
The final way to vote is to vote on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8. In Bryan County, we have ten precincts, or polling locations. All sites will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day. Importantly, you can only vote in the precinct in which you reside. In the May 2022 primary, 51% of Bryan County voters voted on Election Day.
Thank you for your time, and please remember to vote.