Provisional ballots are offered to ensure that all eligible electors are given the opportunity to cast a ballot in any election. The provisional ballot process assumes that if you request a ballot, you are an eligible voter. Voting officials will verify your eligibility after you cast your ballot. Remember that you should never be turned away from a polling place just because your name does not appear on the elector's list. Election officials are required to make every effort to provide you the opportunity to vote. A provisional ballot is a way for you to cast a ballot if your eligibility to vote on Election Day cannot be immediately verified. It is the same ballot every other voter gets. It has all the candidates and races on it.
Required Provisional Ballot
There are five situations where a provisional ballot is required:
- Where a court has extended the voting hours in an election in which federal candidates are on the ballot and the voter voted after 7 p.m.
- Where someone has challenged the voter's eligibility to vote and the voter cannot or will not answer the challenge questions,
- Where the voter arrives at the wrong precinct and cannot get to the proper precinct before the polls close at 7 p.m.
- Where a voter registered for the first time in Georgia by mail and didn't provide an acceptable photo ID at the time of registration and was unable to provide acceptable identification at the polls on election day (see Note 1 below),
- Where the voter's name appears on the official elector's list for the precinct but cannot provide an acceptable photo ID,
- Where the voter's name in not in the express poll or on the List of Registered Voters,
Along with the ballot you also get a salmon colored envelope that shall have places for inserting your name, precinct, date, name of election, and ballot style plus an inner ballot envelope that will have printed on it the words "Official Provisional Ballot" and nothing else. After you vote your ballot, you will put it inside the white inner envelope marked "Official Provisional Ballot" and nothing else, seal it, put it in the salmon colored envelope and place it in provisional ballot box. If you fully complete the affidavit and your eligibility to vote is confirmed, your provisional ballot will be counted.
Remember, if you were issued a provisional ballot because you did not have appropriate identification, you may need to provide more information after Election Day. If you were a first-time voter and the county was unable to identify you, the Board of Elections and Registration will send you a letter within three days after the election. This letter will advise you that you must provide a copy of your Identification Card within three days after the election. As long as you do so, your provisional ballot will be counted, as long as you are otherwise eligible to vote.
Verified & Counted
Provisional ballots are verified and counted after Election Day. Counting must be completed no later than 10 days after a Primary Election, and 14 days after a General Election. Under both federal and state law, provisional ballots are fail-safe methods of voting and ensure that any elector whose eligibility is not established on Election Day may still cast a ballot. Voters should keep the receipt provided to them so that they can find out if their ballot was counted.
Checking the Status of Your Ballot
You can check the status of your ballot on the Secretary of State's website or by contacting the Dade County Board of Elections and Registration at 706-657-8170.