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Who is eligible to vote?

    Who is eligible to vote in the upcoming city of Statesboro election and the responsibilties and restrictions of voter registrars has caused confusion recently in the wake of a grass roots group forming to register voters.
    The College Student Association organized in Statesboro about a week ago. Cameron "Cam" Lewellen, president of of the group, said its aim is to get more students at Georgia Southern University registered to vote.
    Some of the confusion revolves around the ability of new residents – students – to vote.
    According to City Clerk Judy McCorkle, in order to vote in the upcoming city election, a person must be a resident of the city of Statesboro, be at least 18 years old and be registered to vote by Oct. 9. They must also reside in one of the three districts up for election this cycle.
    She said the length of time someone has lived in Statesboro is not an issue.
    "There is not a time requirement as to how long you've lived here," McCorkle said. "You just have to show it's your permanent residence."
    When a person fills out a registration card, they sign an oath stating that the address listed on the form is their permanent address. The residence must be a physical address, not a post office box, and it can be a dormitory.
    McCorkle added that voter registration is tracked by the Secretary of State's office via an online system. If someone registers in Statesboro, it cancels any previous registrations elsewhere.
    "We've had students who've registered here and went home to vote in their local election. When they got to the polls and found out they are registered here and it messed them up."
    Any elector  — someone registered to vote — can challenge the validity of another voter registration. Essentially, that would require the elector in question to provide additional proof of eligibility. In most cases, a picture ID with the current address or a local utility bill would suffice.
    Additional confusion has surrounded the requirements and duties of local voter registrars.
    To be a deputy registrar, an applicant must be registered somewhere in the state of Georgia, not necessarily the city. They must be able to speak English, write legibly, have no felony or fraud convictions and must not have been previously removed as a voter registrar.
    Most of the confusion revolves around campaigning by the registrars themselves.
    According to Georgia law, "Deputy registrars shall not engage in political activity on behalf of a candidate, political party or body while actually conducting the duties of their office."
    This means a registrar may stump for a particular candidate, but doing so while registering voters is strictly forbidden. They are not to display posters, wear buttons or shirts, advocate or criticize a candidate, distribute literature or in any other way campaign while acting as a registrar. Doing so could be grounds  for removal.
    Other activities that could result in revocation of their appointment include registering voters at unapproved sites including door to door, being intoxicated on duty, falsification of records and improper handling of applications.
    Unapproved sites include any that restricts access to any segment of the population. All voter registration drives should be open to the public and should be accessible to anyone wishing to fill out an application.
    Complaints of registrar impropriety should be directed to Shontay Jones, deputy registrar for Bulloch County.


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