What you need to know about provisional ballots & how they’re counted

Provisional ballot

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Vote-by-mail ballots have gained a lot of popularity this election cycle.

But there’s another type of ballot that’s important to the voting process: provisional ballots.

They are given to people at the precinct when their eligibility to vote, is in question.

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Action News Jax Courtney Cole  walks us through how they work and clears up fact-from-fiction, when it comes to those ballots being counted.

So let’s set the scene here: It’s election day, you come in, you show your ID, and then you’re given a provisional ballot.

So what happens next?

Robert Phillips, the Chief Elections Officer for the Duval Supervisor of Elections, said first the voter would check-in at the EVid unit, (which stands for Electronic Voter Identification). It’s used to verify a voter’s address, status, and signature.

“The poll worker would still issue them a EVid ticket, even if they could not find them on there,” Phillips said.

Then he said the poll worker would give the person the ballot with a pink secrecy sleeve.

After the voter completes the ballot, signs it, and returns it to the poll worker, the secrecy sleeve, and ballot will be placed into a pink envelope.

“The voter will fill out all of this pertinent information on the front,” Phillips told Action News Jax Courtney Cole.

Then, the poll worker will review the information on the envelope and sign it.

“At this point, they give the voter this tracking ticket. And that tracking number, right there, matches this number that is on the ballot,” said Phillips.

The number on the tracking ticker allows the voter to see if their provisional ballot was counted or not— and the reason why.

Phillips told Action News Jax Courtney Cole the most common reasons voter eligibility is questioned, comes down to four reasons:

  • a poll worker couldn’t find the voter in the registration system
  • the voter was registered in any other county in Florida but moved to Duval County
  • Human error
  • Lack of identification or proper identification

the most common issue: lack of ID

Acceptable forms of ID include: Florida driver’s license, Florida identification card, a debit or credit card, a student ID, a military ID, passport, concealed weapons permit, the ID or identification issued by the federal state or local government.

“We don’t want voters to be afraid of provisional ballots. Because, of all the ones that we had were no identification, every one of them counted. Except for one, the voter forgot to sign it,” said Phillips.

Phillips told Action News Jax there were 92 provisional ballots in the last election.

44 of those were valid and did count.

57 were not valid and did not count.

Phillips said there are three main reasons a provisional ballot could not be counted:

  • If you’ve voted already, because you can NOT vote twice.
  • If the person is not registered to vote or registered to vote after the deadline
  • Voting at the wrong precinct

“Most of the ones [the provisional ballots] that we have that are in the incorrect precinct are cast between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.,” that’s why Phillips encourages people to vote early.

“You can’t just show up at any precinct at 7 o’clock. On Election Day, you have to vote at the precinct where you live,” said Phillips.

The next thing I wanted to know is when provisional ballots get counted.

“We begin counting them Wednesday after the election. No ballot is ever really rejected until Thursday at five,” Phillips told Action News Jax.

To register to vote, request a mail-in ballot or where you precinct is located, click here: https://www.duvalelections.com/