Moving to Georgia

The requirements for voting in the Peach State appear loose.

A Facebook friend who lives in Atlanta is encouraging people to come stay a spell in order to participate in what look to be two run-off elections to determine party control of the United States Senate on January 5. While I’m not planning to “move” there, my cursory investigation reveals no reason this couldn’t work.

Looking at the Georgia Voter Guide at their Secretary of State’s site, we see that,

ELIGIBILITY You are eligible to vote in Georgia if you are a citizen of the United States; a legal resident of Georgia; at least 18 years old; have not been found to be mentally incompetent by the court; are not serving a sentence for a felony of moral turpitude; are registered to vote; and meet all other state requirements, such as showing a Photo Identification if you choose to vote in person or properly requesting and returning an absentee ballot if you choose to vote by mail.

While my mental competence has from time-to-time been questioned, there is no legal finding to that effect. The stumbling block seems only to be “legal resident of Georgia” (we’ll get back to that) and registration.

VOTER REGISTRATION You may register any time up to the 5th Monday before election day and vote in that election. Forms are available at or contact your county registrar’s office

So, there’s plenty of time to register. And I can do it online! I have Internet access!

So, what is the requirement for Georgia residency? For purposes of getting in-state tuition rates at public universities, they’re fairly steep. But for voting purposes, they seem relatively minimal. Indeed, intentionality seems to be the only real requirement and I haven’t the slightest idea how they would go about providing that one had no intention of making Georgia’s one’s residence.

It does appear that they would prefer you to go through the bother of getting a Georgia drivers license for online registration but it appears that even just a utility bill with an address in the county will suffice for in-person registration. Getting a license is pretty simple and, indeed, required once you’ve been a resident for 30 days:

  • Original documentation showing your identity, residential address, Social Security number, and U.S. citizenship or proof of lawful status in the United States.
  • Proof of your Social Security number
  • 2 documents proving Georgia residency (such as a bank statement, utility bill, or rental contract)
  • Current out-of-state driver’s license (not expired for more than 2 years)
  • License fee, paid for in cash or by credit card.

I don’t know that many people will be committed enough to the outcome of the race to go through these steps. But it does look doable.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Hmmmm…. I know some folks in Georgia.

  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    Hmmm, I own a house in Virginia we’re using for my mother-in-law. (Dementia.) Maybe we could move them to Georgia.

    Incidentally the demented mother-in-law did vote in Virginia. Doesn’t know what year it is or that she keeps asking to speak to dead people, but she knew she hated Trump.

  3. Mom of 4 says:

    My daughter graduated from Georgia Tech this past May. She is now working for IBM in Selma, GA, and lives in Atlanta. She has had a hell of a time getting registered to vote in GA. She can’t change her drivers license as she can’t get an appointment until December. She sent the Board of Elections a copy of her lease and anything else they required. She is still not registered to vote. So no, it isn’t that easy to vote in GA.

  4. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mom of 4: Yeah, but your story doesn’t make the “See, Voter Fraud (!!!) is Rampant and easy” thing that Dr. J. seems to be leaning toward.

  5. R. Dave says:

    I kinda hope they tighten those requirements up asap but in a way that doesn’t impact voting rights under normal circumstances (assuming it’s possible to thread that needle). Much as I’d like to see a Dem takeover of the Senate via winning these runoffs, it’s not a good thing for the integrity of the system if folks actually do try to manipulate the outcome like that or even talk about doing so a la the “defund the police” nonsense.

  6. James Joyner says:

    @Mom of 4: I wonder whether that’s just a COVID thing? My stepdaughter had to make an appointment several weeks out here in Virginia as well.

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: No, not at all. My friend is a very liberal Democrat. There’s apparently no length-of-residency requirement in Georgia and registration is indeed open. But it may well be that demonstrating residency is harder than it appears.

  7. Jay L Gischer says:

    @James Joyner: Or it could be that the GA Elections people have a habit of slow-rolling residency authentications during an election season.

    In any case, I would consider doing it if I were nearby or I was planning to move there anyway or something.

    For instance, my cousin in SD notes that there are lots of people who live near him during the summer, and live in CA during the winter. So, I could see, if I were one of them, switching my registration to SD. But out of the blue, just for an election? I don’t think I’d do it.

  8. EddieInCA says:

    I own a condo in Midtown, Atlanta. But I’ve never gotten a GA License or ID card. No desire to, yet. Might at some point, but not yet. I might look into registering there, and then re-register back in California before the 2022 elections.

  9. Andy says:

    I suspect a lot of states are like that. Here in Colorado you just have to sign an affidavit and provide an ID number (doesn’t need to be a Colorado ID) or your SSN. Fill out the form and sign under penalty of perjury that you’re a sole resident of Colorado and will have resided in the state for at least 22 days before the election and you’re registered. You can even declare you’re homeless and don’t have a permanent address.

    I have no idea what level, if any, verification takes place.

  10. Monala says:

    Speaking of Georgia… I remember when we were giving kudos to EddieinCA, who not only predicted a Biden nomination but Kamala Harris as his running mate.

    I want to extend further kudos to another commenter whose name is escaping me right now (Nick maybe? He’s a young guy who I think got married and had a kid in the last couple of years). During the primaries, when some were saying that Biden’s wins in the South were meaningless because he’d never win those states in the general, Nick* pushed back, saying something like, “Maybe not Mississippi. But he very well could win Georgia.”

    * if that’s his name

  11. Jax says:

    @Monala: Neal, maybe?

  12. Gustopher says:

    @Jax: I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Zod. Definitely Neal before Zod.

  13. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Monala: Yes, I agree. Kudos to them.

    I was an early adopter of “Texas will be in play”. Right now, I’m not sure if I was right or wrong. Texas seems to have had a particularly large polling miss. And this in the state where Beato lost to Ted Cruz by only 3 points or something.

    I guess people really do hate Ted Cruz.

  14. Kathy says:

    The election involves millions of voters. how many people out of state are willing, and/or able, to move to Georgia for a few days or weeks, and how many of those will successfully register and cast a vote?

  15. Gustopher says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Had Latinos broken for Biden like they broke for Clinton in 2016, I think Blue Texas would have either happened, or been so close that we were on pins and needles.

    I think there will be a lot of soul searching about what happened there, and that Texas could be a swing state next time out — definitely leaning red, but capable of swinging blue, like Georgia.

  16. Monala says:

    @Jax: Yeah, I think it might be Neal.

  17. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Gustopher: The exit poll I’ve looked at said that Cubans and Puerto Ricans tend to support Trump, but Mexican-Americans do not. I think there’s more of the latter in Texas. (There’s certainly more of the latter here in CA, and yeah, they voted against Trump, like everyone else here) Have you seen a Texas-specific exit poll?

  18. Matt says:

    I live in Texas and I’ve had more than a few people tell me that the bombardment of texts from the Democratic party was so annoying that they refused to vote because “fck them”… Some of them I know for sure voted for Hillary in 2016. I was getting +2 messages a day (up to eight) with the same damned basic format and usually the same message. It was so frustrating I could totally see their point. Since I had voted early it was a mute point for me but one that had some allure…

    Just some anecdotal evidence…

  19. Kurtz says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I read, I think in the 538 chat, that immigrants from South of us generally lean toward the party opposite of the government they fled. In the case of Mexico, the relationship held depending on the political leanings of the current administration.

    Puerto Rico itself seems pretty split.

  20. Jim Fung says:

    Georgia is a great place to live. HOPE Scholarship, international, diverse, forward-thinking. Not just about this election, as important as it is. People should move there and register to vote in time with the runoff, but I don’t agree with “moving there for 2 months.” Actually move there.

  21. de stijl says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    NoDak was fairly recently awash with temp workers busily working oil jobs until the process yielded saleable oil below the going world price.

    Crammed into mobile homes like stock.

    A shit ton of 20s 30s yo dudes wanting booze and weed and meth and hard drugs. Prostitution shows up.

    This is not what economic development should be like in 21st century US. That was wild west oil rush behavior.

    Williston became the shadiest town in the US.

  22. Jim Fung says:

    Matt, I find this unlikely to have been a major reason for a perennial problem of low turnout along the border, or for Hispanics shifting to Trump on the border. Texas turnout overall was the highest it’s ever been. We also got way more texts and calls (plus doorknocks and signs) in Texas in 2018, when Beto got it closer to 2 points.

  23. Mom of 4 says:

    @James Joyner:

    Agreed that the license issue is a COVID thing. But one can register to vote without having a drivers license. She sent them everything they asked for and still hasn’t been processed. She keeps checking the website and nada. She’s so frustrated as am I! And now she’d really like to vote in the GA Senate races.

    If any of you out there in cyberspace can help, or direct her where to go, I’d appreciate it.


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