DeKalb County Voter Guide: Sept. 29th Special Election (Congressional District 5)

On September 29, 2020, voters in Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District will decide who will fill the current, unexpired term of Rep. John Lewis, who passed away in July. Below, we’ve provided you everything you need to know to vote in the special election.

Still have questions? Call Matthew at 678-631-8820.


Mark your calendar! The first thing you need to know are your deadlines.

  • Tuesday, September 8, 2020––In-person early voting begins
  • Tuesday, September 29, 2020––Special Election Day

Check your voter registration:


Because of COVID-19, you have even more ways to cast your ballot than normal. Although all Georgians are strongly urged to vote by absentee ballot either via mail or drop-box (keep reading), you can decide which manner of voting is right for you.

If you do decide to vote in-person either early or on Election Day, please heed CDC guidance by wearing a cloth face mask, observing 6-feet social distancing while around others, and using hand sanitizer before and after touching common surfaces.

You have three ways to vote:

(1) Absentee/Paper Ballot

Voting by absentee/paper ballot is a 3-step process. First, you have to request an absentee ballot be mailed to you. You can request an absentee ballot here.

Once you receive your absentee ballot, you’ll need to mark your selections and secure the ballot in the envelope/mailing sleeve provided with the ballot. Keep reading for information about each candidate and referendum item on your ballot.

Finally, you’ll need to return your ballot to the DeKalb Board of Elections Office no later than Election Day. You can do this two different ways.

  • Via Mail: Place your ballot in the mail, ensuring that you’ve attached sufficient postage and allowed enough time for your ballot to reach the Board of Elections no later than Election Day (allow at least 3-4 days to be safe).
  • Via Drop box: In response to COVID-19, the State Elections Board recently approved a new rule to allow voters to physically return their ballots to the County Board of Elections by placing it in a drop box so as to avoid person-to-person contact (and without having to pay for postage to return it via mail). You must return your ballot no later than Election Day for it to be counted.
    • DeKalb County has multiple drop boxes scattered throughout the county (updated 9/19/20):
      • Brookhaven City Hall – 4362 Peachtree Rd NE, Brookhaven, GA 30319
      • Sterling at Candler Village – 2536 Mellville Ave., Decatur, GA 30032
      • Voter Registration Office – 4380 Memorial Dr., Decatur, GA 30032 (3 drop boxes)
      • County Line-Ellenwood Library –  4331 River Rd., Ellenwood, GA 30294
      • Exchange Park – 2771 Columbia Dr., Decatur, GA 30032
      • City of Stonecrest – 3120 Stonecrest Blvd., Stonecrest, GA 30038
      • City of Stone Mountain – 875 Main St., Stone Mountain, GA  30083
      • City of Dunwoody – 4800 Ashford Dunwoody Rd., Dunwoody, GA 30338
      • City of Doraville – 3752 Park Ave., Doraville, GA 30340
      • City of Tucker – 1975 Lakeside Parkway Suite 350, Tucker, GA 30084
      • Tucker-Reid H. Cofer Library – 5234 LaVista Rd, Tucker, GA 30084
      • Clarkston Library – 951 N. Indian Creek Drive, Clarkston, GA 30021
      • Wesley Chapel-William C. Brown Library – 2861 Wesley Chapel Rd, Decatur, GA 30034
      • Decatur City Hall – 509 N. McDonough St., Decatur, GA 30030
      • Lou Walker Senior Center – 2538 Panola Road, Stonecrest, GA 30058

(2) In-person Early Voting (starting Sept. 8, 2020)

Starting Tuesday, September 8th, you may cast your vote in-person at any of the early voting polling sites available throughout DeKalb County.

The full list of early voting sites and times is included below.

(3) Election-Day Voting (Sept. 29, 2020)

On Election Day (Tuesday, September 29th), polls will be open from 7a–7p. Unlike for early voting, on Election Day, you may only cast your ballot at your specific polling location.

Find your polling location here.


Download your personalized sample ballot here.

  • U.S. Representative, District 5 (to fill the unexpired, current term of former Rep. John Lewis)
      • This special election will determine who will fill the unexpired, current term of former Congressman John Lewis, who passed away in July. You may recall the news that the Democratic Party of Georgia selected Nikema Williams to replace John Lewis on November’s ballot, however, that is for the election for the next, full term of office, beginning January 3, 2021.
      • If none of the candidates below wins a majority in this special election (which is likely given the large number of candidates), the top two candidates will face off in a runoff election December 1st.
    • FORUM: All seven candidates participated in a forum on August 25th hosted by the South Metro Democratic Women’s Council, which you can watch here.
    • FORUM: The League of Women Voters of Atlanta-Fulton County will host a Zoom forum on September 24th at 6:30pm. The event is free to attend but pre-registration is required here.
      • Robert M. Franklin (Democratic)—website
        • Dr. Franklin is the former president of Morehouse College, where he served from 2007 to 2012. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Divinity School.
        • You can read more about his life and experience here.
        • INTERVIEW: You can hear Dr. Franklin’s recent interview with WABE’s Lisa Rayam here.
      • Kwanza Hall (Democratic)—website
        • Mr. Hall is a former member of the Atlanta City Council, where he served from 2005 to 2017. Prior to that, he served on the Atlanta Board of Education for three years.
        • Mr. Hall ran for Mayor of Atlanta in 2017.
        • Mr. Hall is married to Natalie Hall, a member of the Fulton County Commission.
        • You can read more about his qualifications here.
      • Barrington D. Martin, II (Democratic)—website
        • Mr. Martin unsuccessfully challenged Congressman Lewis in the primary election held earlier this year.
        • He has worked as a paralegal at Parker, Hudson, Rainer, & Dobbs, as a freelance writer and writing tutor, and as a special educator for the Dekalb County School District.
        • You can read more about his qualifications here.
      • Steven Muhammad (Independent)—website
        • Mr. Muhammad is an East Point minister and community activist.
      • Chase Oliver (Libertarian)—website
        • Mr. Oliver works on the import shipping business for a multinational liner service and is running on a platform of criminal justice reform and ending wars abroad and at home.
        • You can read survey responses from Mr. Oliver here.
        • INTERVIEW: You can hear Mr. Oliver’s recent interview with WABE’s Lisa Rayam here.
      • “Able” Mable Thomas (Democratic)—website
        • I have endorsed Rep. Thomas for this election.
        • Able Mable has served in the Georgia House for 22 years total, representing the City of Atlanta. She was first elected in 1984, becoming the youngest member of the Legislature at the time. Rep. Thomas announced earlier this year that she would not seek re-election to the Georgia House in November.
        • Rep. Thomas has also served three terms (six years) on the Atlanta City Council, beginning in 1997.
        • She has twice challenged John Lewis for this seat, first in 1992 and again in 2008.
        • INTERVIEW: You can listen to Rep. Thomas’s interview about running for this seat with WABE’s Lisa Rayam here.
      • Keisha Sean Waites (Democratic)—website
        • Ms. Waites is a former member of the Georgia House, serving from 2012 to 2017.
        • You can read more about her qualifications here.