The General Assembly passed the law restricting voting on Saturdays after public holidays in 2016, but this was not an issue in previous rounds of voting as at the time they took place nine weeks after Election Day , long after Thanksgiving and the holiday.
The voting law passed last year, Senate Bill 202, moved the runoffs to four weeks after Election Day, creating a scheduling conflict.
Suffrage advocates have criticized limitations on early voting opportunities during ballots.
Prior to general and primary elections, Georgia law requires at least 17 days of early in-person voting, including two mandatory Saturdays and two optional Sundays. During the ballots, five days of early voting are mandatory. Early voting is prohibited the weekend before election day.
“We can’t start voting early on a critical day on Friday because Georgia still honors the Confederacy,” Hillary Holley, executive director of the domestic worker organization Care in Action, said on Twitter Friday.
For decades until late 2015, Georgia had a holiday the day after Thanksgiving in memory of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general during the Civil War.
Governor Nathan Deal changed the day’s name to a more neutral title, “State Holiday,” which is always observed on the same calendar day.
Then, in last year’s election law, the Republican majority in the General Assembly shortened the runoff period after the defeats of Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in the January 5, 2021 runoff election. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
This year’s runoff includes Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker after neither candidate won more than 50% of the vote in last week’s election.
Early voting cannot begin until Raffensperger certifies initial election results, which could be as early as Nov. 21, after counties complete an election audit on Thursday and Friday.
Early Voting Dates Before the U.S. Senate Runoff
Obligatory: Monday to Friday, November 28 to December 2
Optional: Tuesday, November 22; Wednesday, November 23; Sunday November 27. County election commissions can decide whether or not to offer early voting on those days.
Note: Early voting cannot begin until Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certifies the results of the initial election, which could be as early as Nov. 21.