According to the 2018 Survey of Election Administration and Voting compiled by the U.S. Electoral Assistance Commission, approximately 1.5 million provisional ballots were cast in the 2018 federal election; Approximately 970,000 were at least partially enumerated and approximately 385,000 were released. (About 330,000 were not included statistically.) These 1.7 million provisional ballots represented 1.2% of all votes counted in the 2018 election. Conversely, the 600,000 rejected provisional ballots represented 0.32% of the votes cast. No provisional ballot is counted or excluded from the count until the election officer has followed the detailed process for determining whether to count an elector`s provisional ballot. (Articles 14310-14311, 15350 and 15100-15112 of the Electoral Code.) Since the processing of preliminary ballots takes longer than regular ballots, legislators and administrators may want to reduce the use of provisional ballots. The availability of preliminary ballots is required by federal law – the Help America Vote Act of 2002 – but state laws determine how and why preliminary ballots are used. They may also want to standardize procedures for the use of provisional ballots throughout their state. The following are the issues related to preliminary votes that legislators can address: Modernization of registration. Improving the accuracy of voter registration can reduce the number of provisional ballots because an elector`s name has been removed from the voting books. Options to improve the accuracy of voter lists include online voter registration, improving the transfer of voter registration applications from motor vehicle authorities, and verifying voter registration data with data from other state or non-state data sources. ** Validity will only be considered if the number of preliminary ballots cast is large enough to influence the outcome of the election The Federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 required states to offer provisional ballots.

The only exceptions are the states that offered voter registration in 1993 on the same day the National Voter Registration Act went into effect – Idaho, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. However, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming use preliminary ballots in some situations. The Help America Vote Act requires states to develop a process for issuing, reviewing, and counting preliminary ballots, including a process that allows voters to know if their ballot has been counted and the reasons for that decision. In practice, this means providing information online or by mail. If your name is not on the voters list at your polling station, you have the right to vote provisionally. Preliminary ballots ensure that voters are not excluded from the voting process due to an administrative error. They provide a built-in security mechanism for voters who arrive at the polls on election day and whose eligibility to vote is uncertain. This website provides a general overview of the state`s preliminary voting laws and practices.

If an elector decides to vote by provisional ballot, the Clerk reviews the application and determines eligibility once the election is over. The following eligibility criteria must be met: Electors: To use a provisional ballot, any elector whose eligibility to vote is uncertain must provide a signed written confirmation to an election officer at the polling station indicating that he or she is a registered elector and is entitled to vote in the election. Provisional ballots are counted even if they do not change the outcome of an election. Provisional ballots cannot be counted by election officials. The district commission shall meet ex officio at the time of obtaining the results of the elections in order to determine the validity of the contestations in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. If the District Commission determines that the challenges are unfounded, each provisional ballot of each contested elector, if otherwise valid, shall be counted and counted with the regular ballots cast at the time of the election. The County Commission as the Solicitors` Council protects the confidentiality of each preliminary ballot. The district board does not consider technical errors, omissions or omissions if it can reasonably be established that the contested elector had the right to vote.

Visit for a list of county contacts and information on how to check the status of your preliminary ballot. Voter`s identity card. Voter identification requirements sometimes increase the number of provisional ballots used in cases where voters do not have the appropriate identification on election day. Often, these voters are then required to present an identity card within a few days of the election, or the provisional ballot is not counted. In 2000, only 17 states and the District of Columbia had some form of provisional voting. Seven other states had voter registration systems that made provisional ballots irrelevant – either because they had Election Day Registration (BDU) or because they had no voter registration at all. Evidence that hundreds of thousands of voters were turned away from the polls in 2000 due to voter registration errors helped pave the way for a section of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 in which states were supposed to introduce interim elections unless the BDU made them irrelevant. In the 2018 Florida midterm elections, after the first vote count, valid and invalid preliminary ballots were mixed, which did not provide a way to be separated for the recount. [5] The most common circumstances in which an election officer asks an elector to vote provisionally are as follows: According to the EAC, the most common reasons for refusing a provisional vote are: (1) the elector has not been registered; (2) the elector has cast a provisional vote in the wrong jurisdiction; (3) the vote was cast in the wrong electoral division; (4) the elector did not have the required identity document or did not present the correct identity card within the time prescribed after the day of the election, as described above; (5) the provisional ballot paper was incomplete or the ballot paper or envelope was illegible; (6) the elector had already participated in the election; or (7) there was no signature on the provisional ballot or envelope.

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) requires every state or local election official to set up an “open access system,” such as: a toll-free phone number that voters can call or a website that voters can access for free to determine if they voted for a provisional ballot at the ballot box, whether their vote was counted or not. and, if it was not counted, the reason why it was not counted. Academic research has shown that preliminary ballots tend to lean more toward the Democratic Party than toward the electorate as a whole, and that this contributes to a phenomenon first identified by Edward Foley and known as the “Blue Shift,” in which Democrats increase their share of the vote as more ballots are counted. [7] This may lead to a different result than the one given at the first count on election night. Some election experts have suggested that this change could be misunderstood and lead to false allegations of electoral fraud or corruption. [8] According to the Electoral Assistance Commission, thousands of provisional ballots are not counted at each election.