Voting

CAN I VOTE? 

Frequently Asked Questions on Voter Eligibility by People with Criminal Records in Georgia

Georgia Justice Project does a lot of educational presentations around the state, and we find there is a lot of confusion and misinformation about who can and cannot vote in Georgia when they have a criminal record.  Each state is different, so read below so you know what the law is in Georgia.

PDF’s of the handouts can be found here:
Can I Vote? Frequently Asked Questions
Voting Outreach Flyer
Show You are Off Paper
Georgia DCS’s Certificate of Sentence Completion
Video: Off Paper? You Can Vote!

YOU CAN VOTE IN GEORGIA IF:

·       You are not currently serving a sentence for a felony conviction.

·       You are “off paper”— you completed incarceration, parole, and probation.

·       You are serving a felony First Offender or Conditional Discharge sentence and the status has not been revoked.

·       Your sentence is complete — your right to vote is automatically restored.  You just need to re-register in order to vote. 

·       You meet the other requirements (see back) and are registered.  


FAQ’s: GEORGIA’S VOTING LAW AND CRIMINAL RECORDS­

Can I vote if I am on probation?

Maybe. If you are on probation for a misdemeanor, you can vote. If you are serving a felony First Offender or Conditional Discharge sentence, and the status hasn’t been revoked, you can vote while still serving the sentence.

But if you were convicted of a felony or had your felony First Offender or Conditional Discharge revoked
and are still on probation, you are not eligible to vote until you complete your sentence, including any
time on non-report status. Note: If you have served more than three years on probation, you may
qualify for early termination.  See GJP.org/probation for details.

How do I know if my sentence is complete?

Your right to vote is automatically restored when your sentence is complete.  If you are not sure if your sentence is complete you can request a Certificate of Sentence Completion from the Department of Community Supervision (DCS). This Certificate confirms you are no longer under felony supervision and have completed your sentence.  To obtain a Certificate, contact your original DCS probation office or your local probation office.

What if I still owe fines and fees?

The Georgia Secretary of State website states, “[y]our felony sentence is considered completed even if you have outstanding monetary obligations other than fines, such as unpaid restitution, fees, costs, or surcharges,” and fines that were imposed as a condition of probation “are automatically cancelled upon completion of probation.” If you are not sure if you have outstanding fines or if your sentence is complete, contact DCS for a Certificate of Sentence Completion.

Can I vote if I pled Nolo contendere to a felony offense?

Yes. If you pled “Nolo,” you can vote, even while serving your sentence.  Nolo pleas are rare for felonies.

DOCUMENTATION

Do I need a pardon or other documentation to register to vote?

No. Your right to vote is automatically restored upon completion of your sentence—you do not need
your record expunged or pardoned. You are not required to provide documentation about your criminal
history to register.

I’m off paper, but they still tell me I can’t register.  What can I do?

Unfortunately, some people are incorrectly told this. To resolve this for yourself, present to the Voter Registration Office one of the following: a Certificate of Sentence Completion from DCS, a termination letter from DCS, a court order terminating your probation, a signed letter from your probation officer, or an email sent directly to the Voter Registrar from DCS/probation officer.  Also, please notify GJP if you were incorrectly told you could not register so we can track where this problem occurs.    

INCARCERATED

Can I vote if I’m in jail?

Maybe. If you are in jail because of a pending case or are serving a sentence for a misdemeanor conviction, you can vote.  But if you have been convicted of a felony and are awaiting transfer to a state prison, you cannot vote until your sentence is complete.  In order to register and vote absentee, you will need an acceptable form of ID, which may require help from someone else.  For more information about how to vote from jail, go to splcenter.org/how-to-vote-GA-from-jail.

Can I vote if I am in prison?

No, unless you were sentenced under First Offender Act or Conditional Discharge and the status hasn’t been revoked.

OTHER QUESTIONS

What if I have a felony conviction from another state?

You can vote in Georgia if you are not currently serving a sentence for a felony conviction. The voting laws of the other state don’t matter—Georgia law applies to Georgia residents.

I am still serving a sentence for a felony conviction, should I just try to register to vote anyway?

No. It is against the law to register to vote when you know you are not eligible.

RESOURCES AND HELPFUL LINKS

Are there other requirements to be able to vote in Georgia?

At the time of the election, you must be at least 18 years old and have photo ID. To register you must also be a United States citizen, a Georgia resident, and have not been declared mentally incompetent.

How do I register to vote in Georgia?

Register online at registertovote.sos.ga.gov.  You can also register in person at your county’s Board of Registrar office.

Having difficulty registering or voting?

If you have more questions or need help understanding if your sentence is complete, contact the
Georgia Justice Project at 404-827-0027 ext. 248 or Ann@GJP.org. If you have any difficulty registering
or casting your ballot, contact the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE.

How can I share this with others to dispel misinformation? 

GJP.org/Voting has this FAQ sheet, a poster, videos, and more information about Certificates of Sentence Completion. We can also share a canvasser guide about this issue with voter outreach organizations

This information is accurate as of April 2022.