WASHINGTON — The entire political world is watching the upcoming runoff elections in Georgia, set for January 5th. The winner of these two races in the Peach State will decide which party controls the Senate.
With so much at stake, certain posts on social media have gained a lot of traction, and raised some interesting questions.
If one moves to Georgia now, can they legally vote in the upcoming January runoff?
Yes, but one must be registered to vote by December 7, and they must plan on sticking around.
Moving to Georgia, with the intention of voting, and then leaving is voter fraud, and is a felony. The Secretary of State in Georgia has issued stern warnings about those attempting such a move, threatening jail time and large fines.
It's also a very tight deadline, since Georgia code mandates that people offer proof of residency to register, which often takes at least a month.
- Georgia Secretary of State, Nov. 16 Warning
- Georgia Secretary of State, Nov. 13 Warning
- Georgia Code, Title 21. Elections
- Dr. Craig Albert, Augusta University
On Nov. 7, former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang Tweeted that he was moving to Georgia.
Yang later clarified that he did not plan on registering to vote, since he was not expected to stay in the state long after the elections.
The post brought up an interesting question about whether people are legally allowed to move to Georgia, in order to vote, in the upcoming runoff elections.
Dr. Craig Albert, an associate professor of politics at Augusta University, said that a person that is actually moving to the state will be able to vote, so long as they register by December 7. He pointed out that this timeline is incredibly tight.
“To register to vote in Georgia," he said. "You usually need your license for the state of Georgia. Getting your license requires you to prove residency, which requires you to have utility bills in your name in the state of Georgia.”
Meanwhile, Albert said that it would be illegal to move to Georgia solely to vote, with plans to leave when the runoff is over.
“You can not do that," he said. "That is a felony under Georgia State law. So you will be prosecuted.”
The relevant section of title 21 of the Georgia Code reads as follows:
"The residence of any person shall be held to be in that place in which such person’s habitation is fixed, without any present intention of removing therefrom.”
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger issued multiple, stern warnings about this type of illegal action, saying that it could be punishable by 10 years in jail, a $100,000 fine, or both.
“Make no mistake about it," Raffensperger said in a Nov. 16 press release. "I will seek to prosecute those who try to undermine our elections to the fullest extent of the law.”