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. Voters who vote provisionally will receive a Notice of Rights notifying them how they can proceed with providing written evidence supporting their eligibility to vote and also how they can find out if their ballot was counted.
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.
Only voters registered in Florida are permitted to vote in Florida.
Counting provisional ballots
All provisional ballots cast are reviewed for eligibility, and the majority are validated by the canvassing board and counted.
The secrecy of votes cast is protected during the canvassing board’s review of provisional ballots and only legal requirements for voting are examined.
The legal standard used by the canvassing board to review provisional ballots is as follows:
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 Supervisor of 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 Supervisor of Elections office will notify all persons who voted via provisional ballot the status of their vote.