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Municipal Elections

Your role as municipal election superintendent is different than your ethics role with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission. As a municipal election superintendent, you will communicate and interact with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office and receive ongoing certification according to the law set out in O.C.G.A. § 21-2-101.

The Secretary of State’s office will assist you with its new election information portal center called Firefly. Through Firefly, you can easily search for election documents such as Election Day checklists, requirements for making your polling location ADA compliant, election timelines, sample notices, and the most current election updates and bulletins. You will also use Firefly to take online certification courses. Even if you do not conduct your municipality’s election, you still will find Firefly a useful tool.
 

Certification for Municipal Election Superintendents


The Georgia Election Code (O.C.G.A. § 21-2-101) requires that all county and municipal election superintendents (or in the case of a county board of elections and registration, a designee of such board) satisfactorily complete a certification program approved by the Secretary of State no later than December 31 of the year during which he or she is appointed. The certification program may include instruction on (and may require the superintendent to demonstrate proficiency in) the operation of the voting equipment and in state and federal law and procedures related to elections.

It is the responsibility of the local government employing the superintendent to pay for any cost incurred by the superintendent’s participation in the certification program (O.C.G.A. § 21-2-101 (a)). This training is not to exceed 64 hours. Review the information below to see what training you may need.

Note: If a municipality contracts with the county and the county does everything related to elections, the municipality does not need certification.

Three types of certification exist for municipal election officials. Secretary of State courses are offered onsite at different locations throughout the state or online at Firefly. You must attend any Kennesaw State University Center for Election Studies courses in person. Dates for in-person classes are listed on the Kennesaw State University website.

To make sure you take these classes on time and get certified, make sure you:
  • Take all required classes (in any order) by December 31 of the year you are appointed.
  • Earn at least an 80% to pass each one.
  • Take the classes either in-person or online. In-person classes on the voting machines are offered at least twice a year at Kennesaw State University. Other classes are available throughout the year in-person as well as online.
1. Full first time certification (if the municipality does not vote on DRE touchscreen units)

If municipal election officials conduct the municipal elections and the municipality does not vote on DRE touchscreen units, the municipal superintendent must complete the following Secretary of State courses either online or in person:
  • Program Overview
  • Election Law
  • Legal Framework of Elections
  • Qualifying Candidates
  • Managing Your Poll Workers
  • Pre-election
  • Administrative Oaths
  • Absentee Balloting
  • Post-election
The superintendent must also attend the in-person half-day course, Management of Municipal Elections, offered by the Kennesaw State University (KSU) Center for Election Systems.
OR

2. Full first time certification (if the municipality does vote on DRE touchscreen units)

If municipal election officials conduct the municipal elections and the municipality does vote on DRE touchscreen units, the Municipal Superintendent must complete the following Secretary of State courses either online or in person:
  • Program Overview
  • Election Law
  • Legal Framework of Elections
  • Qualifying Candidates
  • Managing Your Poll Workers
  • Pre-election
  • Administrative Oaths
  • Absentee Balloting
  • Post-election
The superintendent must also attend the following in-person training (which lasts two and 1/2 days) on the Global Election Management System (GEMS) offered by Kennesaw State University:
  • Election Management System
  • Election Office Operations
  • L&A Fundamentals
  • Express Poll Fundamentals
3. Municipal qualifying certification (if the municipality only qualifies candidates and does not perform any other election duties)

Municipalities that contract with the county to conduct the election and only supervise the qualifying of candidates can complete the Qualifying Candidates course and assessment. Upon receiving a passing score, the Secretary of State Election Division will mail a certificate for this single course to meet your certification requirements. This course is required in each municipal election year, or prior to qualifying candidates.


Municipal Continuing Education Certification


Municipal election officials who have been fully certified in a previous year are required to maintain 12 hours of continuing education biannually with the following courses
  • Program Overview
  • Election Law
  • Legal Frameworks of Elections
  • Qualifying Candidates
Note: Continuing education is not an additional requirement for county superintendents conducting municipal elections.

The Georgia Secretary of State office will provide forms for you to record and verify your training requirements. All training information can be found on the Firefly website.
 

Administrative Responsibilities


Unless your city appoints a different election superintendent, the city clerk usually holds this position by virtue of the city charter or an appointment by the governing authority. Please check with your city attorney if you are unsure if your position requires you to also be the elections superintendent. Your municipal election superintendent administrative responsibilities include:
  • Notifying the Secretary of State elections office of any regular, run-off, or special election.
  • Overseeing the election process for all municipal elections, including following all state laws and municipal ordinances concerning when the election takes place and how many councilmembers can be up for reelection each year.
  • Receiving training and continuing education about the state’s election laws and processes through the Georgia Secretary of State’s Georgia Election Official Certification Program.
  • Overseeing special elections, if required, when a mayor’s or councilmember’s seat becomes unexpectedly vacant.
  • Making sure your city’s elections stay consistent with the Georgia Election Code.
  • Providing timely, appropriate notices and communications about the election to the public.
County registrars hold the responsibility of maintaining and retaining all county and city voter lists. However, you have the responsibility of updating your municipality lists before an election in your city.

Information and training is provided by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office through its online service called Firefly. Firefly will provide you everything you need to know about your election duties.

Contact the Secretary of State Elections Division for setting up your Firefly account. To use Firefly, go directly to the site or:
  1. Go to the Georgia Secretary of State’s website.
  2. Go to County Connect.
  3. Go to Firefly.
Firefly serves as the official learning tool for municipal elections staff and serves as an election information portal.

If you need help using Firefly:
  • Read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on Firefly.
  • Go to The Buzz—a forum of other Firefly users located on Firefly.
  • Go to Training and click on “Firefly Training.”
  • Your Georgia Secretary of State Elections Division liaison will also assist you with questions and help you with the Firefly site.

Qualifying Officers


Qualifying Officers have a separate duty with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission (GGTCFC) which requires that:
  • All qualifying officers obtain a PIN number from GGTCFC.
  • Within 10 days of the last qualifying period date you must log in to the GGTCFC e-file system and list all candidate information.
  • Within 10 days of the election or run-off, you must log in to the e-file system and enter the information about who won and lost.
Sample Documents and Resources

Sample Elections Contract
Sample Elections Contract - Valdosta

On Firefly, you will find a sample list of what to include in the Candidate Qualifying Packet, Sample Election Checklist, and other useful sample documents, notices, and checklists.

Elections Webinar: Special Elections & Changing Precincts and Polling Places
 
KSU Center for Elections
Kennesaw State University
Center for Election Systems
3205 Campus Loop Road
Kennesaw, GA 30144-5591
Toll Free: 1-866-KSU-Vote (1-866-578-8683)
Local: 770-423-6900
 
Georgia Secretary of State
Elections Division
2 MLK Jr. Dr.
Suite 802 Floyd West Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
Phone: 404-656-2871
Fax: 404-651-9531
 
Firefly
404-656-7610
If you do not have a user ID and password for Firefly, please email the Training Department at firefly@sos.ga.gov to request your login information.