Provisional Ballot Guide

What is a Provisional Ballot?

  • Provisional ballots are a back-up measure put in place to ensure that no individual is unable to vote due to an administrative error. The ballot is the same as a normal ballot one would receive if voting normally, however, it is set aside from regular ballots to be reviewed later. 

Why did I have to cast a Provisional Ballot?

  • There are several reasons a person might have to cast a provisional ballot:
    • Eligibility to vote cannot be established
    • Registration information does not match the identification presented
    • No identification or unacceptable identification is presented
    • Name does not show up on poll or registration list
    • An absentee ballot was shown to be received but the voter claims they did not mail it
    • Citizenship is contested

What do I do now?

  • Don't worry, you can still make sure your vote is counted! 
  • First, understand why you were not allowed to vote on the polling machines. A poll worker will let you know the reason. 
  • If you were unable to present a valid form of identification, this is typically fixed by going to your local elections office and providing the correct photo I.D. 
    • Other issues can also be solved this way; by going to your local elections office and changing information or providing missing information.
  • Also note, in most states, in order for your ballot to be counted, the issue must be resolved within three days of Election Day (typically by the end of business hours on that Friday). 
  • Some states also allow you to check your provisional ballot status online! See your state's elections website here to find out if this is an option for you.

Will my vote be counted?

  • Unfortunately, with provisional ballots, there is a chance your vote will not get counted if the issued that caused you to vote provisionally has not been resolved soon after Election Day. 
  • To ensure your vote gets counted, be sure to follow some of the guidelines above, or ask a poll worker how to resolve the issue so you can ensure your vote is counted!
  • If you voted in the wrong precinct, chances are only parts of your ballot will be counted. If you voted on a candidate who was not also on the ballot in your precinct, your vote will not count for that individual. However, any other races you were eligible to vote in will be counted.

Source: NCSL