The General Election is 39 days away! What is your voting plan?

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Greetings, friends. We are in the home stretch! Read on to learn when and how to vote, including in the special election going on right now. I can't emphasize enough the importance of having a plan for the General Election on November 3. I know it can be confusing, but we have to press on. This fall election is the most important of all those in my long years of public service.

U.S. Congress 5th District Special Election Now to fill Rep. John Lewis' unexpired term. There are many candidates, but Dr. Robert Franklin has my vote and endorsement. The winner will serve until January 2021 when we trust that Democrat Nikema Williams will be sworn in as the winner of the November 3 contest. If you have an absentee ballot for this election, take it to one of the DeKalb Drop Boxes OR vote early in person TODAY at these places: DeKalb Early Voting for September 29.
Miss all those times? Vote at your precinct next Tuesday, September 29. This is the ONLY race on this ballot. Special Election Sample Ballot


Absentee "Rollovers":
If you qualified (military, 65-plus, disabled, or overseas) and checked a box on your absentee request form for the June primary, you will automatically receive your ballot for Nov. 3. If you don't yet have it, check your ballot status at My Voter Page.

Absentee Ballot Request: Again, don't wait! Go to the Secretary of State's new portal: Online Absentee Ballot Request. This is a direct request form. If you have any problems, first try re-entering your information. The site might not recognize you if you originally registered by other than your drivers' license number or if your name doesn't match government records. If you still have problems, go back to the My Voter Page to fill out, print, and mail or email the traditional request to receive an absentee ballot. Absentee ballots (other than rollovers) started going out on September 15.

When you have the ballot: Fill it out and take it to one of these DeKalb County Drop Box Locations. The closest drop boxes for my district HD-82 are listed below. Decatur and Toco Hills are ready now. Brookhaven will open in the near future.

  • Brookhaven City Hall 4362 Peachtree Rd. NE, Brookhaven, GA 30319
  • Decatur City Hall 509 N. McDonough St., Decatur, GA 30030
  • Toco Hills-Avis G. Williams Library 1282 McConnell Drive, Decatur, GA 30033

If you are hospitalized or disabled and can't get to a drop box personally, someone else (designated family member, caregiver, housemate, jail warden) may be eligible to take it for you. For the details, see Absentee Ballot Guidelines and Official Code of Georgia.

You also can put a stamp on your ballot and send it by U.S. Mail. Do not wait. Over 1.2 million absentee ballots have been requested statewide; DeKalb is backlogged but processing now. Absentee Ballot Backlog

More Information: A number of basic questions were answered recently in this article in the AJC: How to Vote by Mail.

Problems now or on election day? Call the Georgia Voter Protection Hotline at 888-730-5816.

Vote Early in Person: From October 12 to October 30, you can vote in early in person at several locations. Dekalb has not yet posted those locations, so we will update you as soon as they do. Meanwhile, plan: check your registration, your schedule, and calendar the date and time you will go.

Undecided or Worried About Using Your Absentee Ballot? Please read carefully. Voting twice (by absentee and in person) is a FELONY.

If you have an absentee ballot but decide to vote in person early or in person on November 3, take the ballot with you. Poll will workers take that absentee ballot and void it before allowing you to vote.

If you applied for but have not yet received your absentee ballot, go to My Voter Page frequently to check its status. If the page shows your ballot not sent or not received by October 12, go to your early voting location and explain. The procedure will be similar to the above: poll workers will double check records before allowing you to vote.

Some folks hold on to their completed absentee ballot, go to their polling place on November 3 and, if the lines are long, take their ballot to a drop box. While this is fine, I don't recommend it because it creates a backlog for counting. THE EARLIER YOU VOTE, THE BETTER THE PROCESS WORKS.

Counting Absentee Ballots: As of this writing, absentee ballots postmarked by November 3 and received within three days thereafter will be counted. Secretary of State Raffensperger is trying to overturn that ruling. Another reason to get your absentee ballot in as soon as possible. Do not wait to mail or to put in a drop box.

Election Reform Efforts Continue: As I have reported previously, I participated since June on the House Government Affairs investigation relating to the June 9 primary. We had several days of hearings, heard testimony, and issued a report you can read: House Government Affairs Elections Investigation Report. Our recommendations are modest, but I learned a great deal during the hearing and appreciate the efforts to learn more about the dysfunction of June 9 primary.


The November ballot has four special measures, two that would amend the Georgia Constitution. I've heard from many of you with questions about these. I voted YES on each of these in the House and continue to recommend a YES vote. Here is the ballot language and a rationale for my vote.
Proposed Constitutional Amendment 1
Authorizes dedication of fees and taxes to their intended purposes by general state law. (House Resolution 164; Act No. 597)
"Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize the General Assembly to dedicate revenues derived from fees or taxes to the public purpose for which such fees or taxes were intended?"
I recommend a YES vote because this amendment adds teeth, truth, and transparency by providing a way to ensure that fees that are specifically designated actually get allocated for their designated purpose.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment 2

Waives state and local sovereign immunity for violation of state laws, state and federal constitutions. (House Resolution 1023; Act 596)
"Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to waive sovereign immunity and allow the people of Georgia to petition the superior court for relief from governmental acts done outside the scope of lawful authority or which violate the laws of this state, the Constitution of Georgia, or the Constitution of the United States?"
I recommend a YES vote because this amendment gives Georgians the keys to the courthouse door when their state or local government entities are acting outside their scope of lawful authority or in violation of the Georgia or U.S. constitutions.
Statewide Referendum A
Ad valorem tax exemption for real property owned by purely public charity. (House Bill 344; Act 149)
"Shall the Act be approved which provides an exemption from ad valorem taxes for all real property owned by a purely public charity, if such charity is exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the federal Internal Revenue Code and such real property is held exclusively for the purpose of building or repairing single-family homes to be financed by such charity to individuals using loans that shall not bear interest?"
I recommend a YES vote because this bill will give charitable organizations like Habitat for Humanity the ability to devote more resources to building affordable housing.

Special Election DeKalb County

Ethics Question: "Shall the Act be approved which revises the Board of Ethics for DeKalb County?"

I recommend a YES vote. I voted Yes on the House floor on DeKalb’s ethics bill, and I am voting yes on the Nov. 3 ballot referendum. It is not a perfect bill, not what I would have written, but is an acceptable compromise.

New Survey and Past Results
Do you have a plan to vote?

Survey Says: On our last survey we asked if you agreed or disagreed with the statement below. We had 100 responses, and here are the results:

Georgia's absentee ballots that are postmarked on Election Day and received by the election office within 3 days should be counted.

88% agreed with the statement
11% disagreed with the statement
1% no response

Write-in comments included:

All votes should be counted.

I think they should move up the deadline to Election Day.
Accepting ballots after Election Day invites fraud.

In this wild time with COVID, we're all experiencing disruptions
and delays all over the place. This is a reasonable solution. I just
wish it was a longer period, but it's better than nothing.

I think it's the voter's responsibility to get the ballot in by Election

Deadline: Wednesday, September 30!
Have you completed the census? If not, please go HERE to complete it online OR call 844-330-2020 OR fill out and return the official U.S. Census Bureau mail you have received. As of this writing, there is litigation to extend deadline, but don't wait. It takes just a few minutes.

Many of you have asked me how to help in this election. Here are some ways to do it from the safety of your home:

  • Donate to the candidates of your choice. There's always a button on the candidate's website. Order yard signs while you are there.
  • Volunteer to answer the Georgia Voter Protection Hotline
  • Volunteer to make calls or send texts or postcards for any candidate for office by going to that person's website and signing up.
  • Encourage everyone you know to vote--post encouragement on social media.
  • Reach out to every young person in your family and circle of friends: offer your help in getting them registered and ensuring they vote. Note: Voter registration ends October 5.
  • If you are able, offer to drive someone to a ballot drop box, early voting location, or polling place.
  • If you are able, plan to go to your or other polling places on Election Day with water, pizza, or other snacks in case there are long lines.These groups of volunteers are loosely organized; try checking Facebook.

Obviously, your personal health and safety and that of others comes first, so please continue to wear a mask and wash your hands. It's our only defense right now to the Covid-19 virus.

And, as always, thank you for the privilege of serving HD-82. Keep in touch!
Mary Margaret
Law Office (404) 377-0485
Legislative Office (404) 656-0265

Coverdell Legislative Office Building
18 Capitol Square, Suite 604
Atlanta, GA  30334