2021 Georgia Code
Title 21 - Elections
Chapter 2 - Elections and Primaries Generally
Article 7 - Precincts and Polling Places
§ 21-2-266. Polling Places and Advance Voting Locations - Use of Public Buildings; Use of Portable or Movable Facilities; Unrestricted Access to Residential Communities

Universal Citation: GA Code § 21-2-266 (2021)
  1. In selecting polling places and advance voting locations, the superintendent of a county or the governing authority of a municipality shall select, wherever practicable and consistent with subsection (d) of Code Section 21-2-265, schoolhouses, municipal buildings or rooms, or other public buildings for that purpose. In selecting polling places and advance voting locations, the superintendent of a county or the governing authority of a municipality shall give consideration to the comfort and convenience those places to be selected will provide to both electors and poll officers. School, county, municipal, or other governmental authorities, upon request of the superintendent of a county or the governing authority of a municipality, shall make arrangements for the use of their property for polling places or advance voting locations; provided, however, that such use shall not substantially interfere with the use of such property for the purposes for which it is primarily intended.
  2. The superintendent of a county or the governing authority of a municipality shall have discretion to procure and provide portable or movable polling facilities of adequate size for any precinct; provided, however, that buses and other readily movable facilities shall only be used in emergencies declared by the Governor pursuant to Code Section 38-3-51 to supplement the capacity of the polling place where the emergency circumstance occurred.
  3. When the boundaries of a restricted access residential community are used as the boundaries for a precinct and a polling place is established within such restricted access residential community for the use of the voters in such precinct, such restricted access community and polling place shall be open to full and complete access by the public when such polling place is in use on the day of a general or special primary or general or special election, including the time while poll officers are setting up the polling place prior to the opening of the polls, the time while the polls are open, and the time while the poll officers are completing the tabulation of the votes, election paperwork, and similar functions after the close of the polls. Such restricted access community and polling place shall also be open to full and complete access by the election superintendent, investigators of the State Election Board, all affected candidates and their representatives, and the public in the event of a recount or recanvass of the votes cast in any primary or election involving such precinct and polling place conducted at such precinct and polling place. In addition, in the event of a contest or challenge to the results of any primary or election involving such precinct and polling place, the election superintendent, upon reasonable notice and at reasonable times, may require such restricted access community and polling place to be open to full and complete access by the election superintendent, investigators of the State Election Board, and all affected candidates and their representatives for the purpose of determining the issues involved in such contest or challenge.

(Code 1933, § 34-706, enacted by Ga. L. 1964, Ex. Sess., p. 26, § 1; Ga. L. 1978, p. 812, § 2; Ga. L. 1982, p. 1512, § 5; Ga. L. 1986, p. 348, § 1; Ga. L. 1998, p. 295, § 1; Ga. L. 2013, p. 270, § 2/HB 87; Ga. L. 2021, p. 14, § 20/SB 202.)

The 2021 amendment, effective March 25, 2021, in subsection (a), inserted "and advance voting locations," near the beginning of the first and second sentences and "or advance voting locations" near the middle of the third sentence, and added the proviso at the end of subsection (b).

Editor's notes.

- Ga. L. 2021, p. 14, § 1/SB 202, not codified by the General Assembly, provides: "This Act shall be known and may be cited as the 'Election Integrity Act of 2021."'

Ga. L. 2021, p. 14, § 2/SB 202, not codified by the General Assembly, provides: "The General Assembly finds and declares that:

"(1) Following the 2018 and 2020 elections, there was a significant lack of confidence in Georgia election systems, with many electors concerned about allegations of rampant voter suppression and many electors concerned about allegations of rampant voter fraud;

"(2) Many Georgia election processes were challenged in court, including the subjective signature-matching requirements, by Georgians on all sides of the political spectrum before and after the 2020 general election;

"(3) The stress of the 2020 elections, with a dramatic increase in absentee-by-mail ballots and pandemic restrictions, demonstrated where there were opportunities to update existing processes to reduce the burden on election officials and boost voter confidence;

"(4) The changes made in this legislation in 2021 are designed to address the lack of elector confidence in the election system on all sides of the political spectrum, to reduce the burden on election officials, and to streamline the process of conducting elections in Georgia by promoting uniformity in voting. Several examples will help explain how these goals are achieved;

"(5) The broad discretion allowed to local officials for advance voting dates and hours led to significant variations across the state in total number of hours of advance voting, depending on the county. More than 100 counties have never offered voting on Sunday and many counties offered only a single day of weekend voting. Requiring two Saturday voting days and two optional Sunday voting days will dramatically increase the total voting hours for voters across the State of Georgia, and all electors in Georgia will have access to multiple opportunities to vote in person on the weekend for the first time;

"(6) Some counties in 2020 received significant infusions of grant funding for election operations, while other counties received no such funds. Promoting uniformity in the distribution of funds to election operations will boost voter confidence and ensure that there is no political advantage conferred by preferring certain counties over others in the distribution of funds;

"(7) Elections in Georgia are administered by counties, but that can lead to problems for voters in counties with dysfunctional election systems. Counties with long-term problems of lines, problems with processing of absentee ballots, and other challenges in administration need accountability, but state officials are limited in what they are able to do to address those problems. Ensuring there is a mechanism to address local election problems will promote voter confidence and meet the goal of uniformity;

"(8) Elections are a public process and public participation is encouraged by all involved, but the enthusiasm of some outside groups in sending multiple absentee ballot applications in 2020, often with incorrectly filled-in voter information, led to significant confusion by electors. Clarifying the rules regarding absentee ballot applications will build elector confidence while not sacrificing the opportunities for electors to participate in the process;

"(9) The lengthy absentee ballot process also led to elector confusion, including electors who were told they had already voted when they arrived to vote in person. Creating a definite period of absentee voting will assist electors in understanding the election process while also ensuring that opportunities to vote are not diminished, especially when many absentee ballots issued in the last few days before the election were not successfully voted or were returned late;

"(10) Opportunities for delivering absentee ballots to a drop box were first created by the State Election Board as a pandemic response. The drop boxes created by rule no longer existed in Georgia law when the emergency rules that created them expired. The General Assembly considered a variety of options and constructed a system that allows the use of drop boxes, while also ensuring the security of the system and providing options in emergency situations;

"(11) The lengthy nine-week runoffs in 2020 were exhausting for candidates, donors, and electors. By adding ranked choice voting for military and overseas voters, the run-off period can be shortened to a more manageable period for all involved, easing the burden on election officials and on electors;

"(12) Counting absentee ballots in 2020 took an incredibly long time in some counties. Creating processes for early processing and scanning of absentee ballots will promote elector confidence by ensuring that results are reported quickly;

"(13) The sanctity of the precinct was also brought into sharp focus in 2020, with many groups approaching electors while they waited in line. Protecting electors from improper interference, political pressure, or intimidation while waiting in line to vote is of paramount importance to protecting the election system and ensuring elector confidence;

"(14) Ballot duplication for provisional ballots and other purposes places a heavy burden on election officials. The number of duplicated ballots has continued to rise dramatically from 2016 through 2020. Reducing the number of duplicated ballots will significantly reduce the burden on election officials and creating bipartisan panels to conduct duplication will promote elector confidence;

"(15) Electors voting out of precinct add to the burden on election officials and lines for other electors because of the length of time it takes to process a provisional ballot in a precinct. Electors should be directed to the correct precinct on election day to ensure that they are able to vote in all elections for which they are eligible;

"(16) In considering the changes in 2021, the General Assembly heard hours of testimony from electors, election officials, and attorneys involved in voting. The General Assembly made significant modifications through the legislative process as it weighed the various interests involved, including adding further weekend voting, changing parameters for out-of-precinct voting, and adding transparency for ballot images; and

"(17) While each of the changes in this legislation in 2021 stands alone and is severable under Code Section 1-1-3, the changes in total reflect the General Assembly's considered judgment on the changes required to Georgia's election system to make it 'easy to vote and hard to cheat,' applying the lessons learned from conducting an election in the 2020 pandemic."

Administrative Rules and Regulations.

- Accessibility for elderly and disabled voters, Official Compilation of the Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia, Georgia Election Code, Registration of Electors, § 183-1-6-.04.


Interference with primary use of public property.

- Whether the use as a polling place will substantially interfere with primary use of public property is a decision which lies within the discretion of the judge of the probate court (now superintendent). 1965-66 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 65-88.

Use of school buildings as polling places.

- The General Assembly intended that, wherever possible, school buildings be used as polling places. An affirmative duty is placed on school officials to make their property available for polling places. 1965-66 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 65-88.

National Guard Armories may be used as polling places in an election. Armories cannot be used, however, if the use would interfere in any way with the functions and purposes for which the armory is primarily intended. 1969 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 69-254.


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 26 Am. Jur. 2d, Elections, § 307.


- 29 C.J.S., Elections, §§ 147, 331.

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