Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught history, and has an MA in Islamic law/finance. He has since founded his own financial advice firm, Newton Analytical.
Participating with the Government
There are many options available for Georgians interested in making an impact on their state government. Ranging from voting and contacting representatives to becoming an elected official yourself, as a citizen of the state of Georgia you have a number of ways to make your voice heard. In this lesson, we're going to look at the different ways that people in the state of Georgia have the ability to not only participant in government but become part of the government themselves.
For many people, voting for state officials in Georgia is the most that they will do to participate in government. Still, it is vital for people to vote, since without votes we have no real way of knowing what the people want. Being able to govern in the name of the people is the central aspect of democracy, so if you want your voice to be heard, the most important thing that you can do really is to vote.
In order to vote in the state of Georgia, you must be 18 years old. You also have to be a legal resident in whatever county in which you claim residency. Often, this means registering to vote with proof of address at least a month before the election. Also, you cannot have been convicted of a crime that takes away your right to vote, nor can you have been declared mentally unable to vote.
So let's say you voted for a candidate, and she was elected but isn't keeping a promise that was near and dear to your heart. What should you do now? The next step is to directly contact your representative. Like the governor and other members of the executive branch, every state legislator, whether a representative or a senator, has a number of methods by which to contact them. In fact, they hire people to help them manage all that correspondence. Now when you call, don't be afraid or disheartened if you don't get transferred to the elected official. More often than not, you'll have to talk to a staffer. However, those staffers do relay the substance of the phone call back to the politician, so be sure to tell them everything that you want the elected official to hear!
Let's say that you really like a given elected official and feel that they represent your views very well. Obviously, you want them to stay in office. One of the primary ways that you can help make sure that your favorite politician stays in office is by helping them fundraise for reelection. Yes, that does mean parting with some of your hard-earned money. However, politicians remember who helped them fundraise and are very likely to listen closely to people who give generously. For most elections in Georgia, there is a limit of $1,000 that a person may donate to any one candidate per election. Since most politicians have to run in a primary and a general election, that means $2,000 in an election year. The exceptions are state-wide races, in which a person can donate $5,000 per election, meaning a maximum of $10,000 in an election year. Run-off elections allow for additional donations.
Running for Office
However, sometimes state officials don't live up to their expectations. In that case, you have the right to replace them yourself! Running for office in Georgia is perhaps the best way to fully participate in the political system, but it's not as easy as voting. You've got to meet a number of more stringent requirements. Foremost, you've got to meet the requirements for office. For example, to run for governor you have to be at least 30 years old, have lived in the United States for 15 years, and at least 6 years in Georgia. Also, you have to convince enough people to put your name on the ballot. Currently, you have to gather almost 60,000 signatures to appear on the ballot. The only exception is if a major party instead puts you on as their candidate. Also, you have to pay filing fees and submit other paperwork as needed. The requirements to run for lower offices are more lax, but still must be followed.
In this lesson, we looked at the ways that Georgia citizens can participate in state government. We started with the most fundamental way that citizens can participate, which is through their right to vote. We also saw the importance of political donations and contact with elected officials. Finally, we saw that while there are a number of requirements involved, Georgia residents can also run for political office themselves.
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