Offered a Provisional Ballot? Just Say No!

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It happened to me today. While I am registered to vote by mail, I chose to go in person to my polling place to cast my vote. I wanted to gauge the turnout, see if there were any problems and try out the new-fangled voting machines. I had done this without issue in 2004 and 2006.

When I went into the polling place they asked my why I had not voted by mail and I gave them those reasons. They then asked if I had the mail-in ballot with me and I said no. Then they offered me a provisional ballot, as if it carried the same weight as a traditional ballot. THEY DO NOT.

Depending on where you live, provisional ballots may be counted last, and then only if it’s a close race, or not at all.

I told the poll worker that was unacceptable. She said I would need to bring in my mail-in ballot to be torn up before I was allowed to vote using the new electronic voting machines. I promptly did just that. Thirty minutes later I was casting my vote, wondering if the machine would flip my votes or reject me entirely. Fortunately, it did not.

If you are offered a provisional ballot, reject it if at all possible. If you have to go home to get additional paperwork, do that, come back and cast a real ballot. If the poll worker is offering a provisional ballot as a viable alternative, ask them what you need to do in order to cast a real ballot. If they are unhelpful and you know you are in the right, ask to speak to that person’s supervisor or call 1-866-OUR-VOTE to report the issue.

Remember, only cast a provisional ballot as a last resort. It is better than not voting at all, but is a poor substitute to a real ballot and your vote may not be counted.

Post by ILO on 11/04/08 at 2:37 pm