What is a Provisional Ballot?
A provisional ballot is an alternative voting method for a voter whose eligibility is in question or cannot be verified at their polling site. Provisional ballots help protect against voter fraud and are governed by state law (see Florida Statute 101.048 for more information).
Voters who vote a provisional ballot do not scan their ballots into the vote tabulation machine. Instead, provisional ballots are placed in secure envelopes to be delivered to the Supervisor of Elections office for further processing.
Common Reasons for Provisional Voting
One of the most common reasons voters must vote a provisional ballot is not providing proper identification at the polls.
Other reasons for having to vote a provisional ballot might include, but are not limited to the following:
- Voter’s name does not appear on the precinct register and voter’s eligibility is unverified;
- Voter refutes the Supervisor of Elections’ Office confirmation that they are not registered or eligible;
- There is an indication on the precinct register that the voter has requested a mail (absentee) ballot and the voter does not have a ballot to surrender, and the poll worker is unable to verify that the voter has not voted;
- There is an indication on the precinct register that the voter has returned the mail (absentee) ballot or has voted in the office or at an early voting site, but the voter maintains that they have not voted, even after a call to the Supervisor of Elections’ office;
- Voter did not provide both picture identification and signature identification;
- There is an indication on the precinct register that the voter has been challenged in this election, or the voter is challenged at the precinct;
- Voter’s signature does not match signature on record and voter refuses to fill out an affidavit;
- There is an indication on the precinct register that the voter’s Florida Driver’s License, Florida Identification card number, or social security number is not yet verified by the Department of State in conjunction with Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
- Voter refuses to vote in the precinct in which they reside. Florida law requires a voter to vote in the precinct in which they reside. (A voter can change their address at the polls before they vote, but must vote in the correct precinct once the change is made.)
Counting Provisional Ballots
All provisional ballots cast are reviewed for eligibility, and those validated by the canvassing board are counted.
If it is determined that the person was registered and entitled to vote at the precinct where the person cast a vote in the election, the canvassing board shall compare the signature on the Provisional Ballot Voter’s Certificate and Affirmation with the signature on the voter’s registration and, if it matches, shall count the ballot. § 101.048(2), F.S.
Voters who forget their ID do not need to provide evidence of their eligibility to the canvassing board, as the signature on the affirmation they sign at the polls will be compared to their signature on record with the Elections office.
Voters who vote provisional for other reasons (for example, eligibility is challenged by another person, in the wrong precinct when voting, do not appear on the precinct register, etc.), should provide evidence to the canvassing board no later than 5 P.M. two days after the election to support the validity of the provisional ballot.
Within 30 days of Election Day the Elections office will provide a search tool online for all persons who voted via provisional ballot to find out whether their ballot was or was not deemed valid. You can use the following link to check the status of a provisional ballot: