Atlanta voters head to the polls on November 7, 2017, to choose a new city mayor; incumbent Kasim Reed is term-limited. The office of city council president, 15 seats on city council, and 9 seats on the Board of Education are also up for election, and 10 municipal court judges are running unopposed in retention elections.
Here’s what you need to know as you head to the polls:
POLLING HOURS & LOCATIONS: Polls in Atlanta open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 8:00 p.m. To find your nearest polling location, click here to go to the City of Atlanta website and enter your voter registration information. You will need a photo ID in order to vote, and you may provide any of the following six forms:
- Drivers license (can be expired)
- Any valid photo ID issued by the state or federal government, “including a free Voter ID Card issued by your county registrar or Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS).
- Valid U.S. passport
- Valid U.S. military ID with photo
- Valid tribal ID with photo
- Any valid employee ID issued by the municipal, county, state or federal government with photo
REGISTRATION GUIDELINES: Only voters who registered prior to October 10, 2017, are eligible to vote in this election. There is no same-day registration. You can check your voter registration status using the same link provided for polling locations.
TRACKING RESULTS: The City of Atlanta will provide election results on its website once voting is over. Heavy will also be tracking results and providing live updates on election night via Decision Desk HQ; this post will be updated with a link when results start coming in.
WHAT’S AT STAKE IN THE MAYORAL RACE: This year’s mayoral election has attracted a crowded field of candidates. Atlanta’s mayorship has been regarded as somewhat of a dynasty ever since Maynard Jackson won the office in 1973 and became the first black mayor of a major metropolis in the southern U.S. The city has had black mayors ever since, and each has had close ties to either Jackson or their predecessor.
Current incumbent Kasim Reed has endorsed childhood friend and City Councilmember Keisha Lance Bottom, who has been creeping up in the polls over the past several months, and City Council President Ceasar Mitchell has also thrown his hat in the ring. But it’s a white candidate that has topped every poll to date, causing the local media to wonder if City Councilmember Mary Norwood might unravel Jackson’s dynasty.
However, Norwood also appeared poised to break the mold in 2009’s mayoral race, and the headlines were just as anticipatory. After Norwood placed first in the general election ahead of Kasim Reed by a comfortable 10 percent margin, Reed surged in popularity and ended up winning the race. The runoff election was so close that Norwood demanded a recount, but Reed still bested Norwood by a margin of just 714 votes.
Atlanta’s mayoral race is technically nonpartisan, though most of the candidates are self-declared Democrats apart from Norwood, who calls herself “purple.” If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote outright, the top two vote-getters will proceed to a runoff election on December 5, 2017.