What Gives with the Provisional Ballots?

Two people I know were given provisional ballots today when their polling places couldn’t find their names on the logs. Both of them had received their information, including sample ballot (with polling place listed), in the mail and fortunately both had that information with them. They both are (understandably) a bit concerned about whether or not their votes will get counted and why they weren’t listed (one is in West LA and the other in Sylmar, so whatever the issue is, it seems to be city-wide). I was a bit worried I might encounter the same thing since I moved a little over a month ago to my new place, but I was listed. There was, however, a snafu at the polling place when a woman came to vote and there was already a signature by her name (it appeared to be someone else’s signature, but whose they couldn’t determine). What about y’all? Witness any disturbing screw ups today as we tried to exercise our right/privilege/obligation to vote?

(Click to make the excellent 1877 Thomas Nast drawing bigger.)

Has this happened to anyone else? What gives here?

8 thoughts on “What Gives with the Provisional Ballots?”

  1. I’ve seen a number of people having to vote provisionally, and it seems to mostly be people whop registered to vote a little close to the deadline. I think its actually less than it could have been, considering how high the turnout has been. And while provisional votes are usually only counted when races are tight enough that they’d have an affect, Prop 8 among other ballots may come down to the wire.

  2. I ran into this situation on another election. They move poll locations around so that when I didn’t check on my sample ballot, I went to the location I usually went to…(two blocks away). Well, they had changed the precinct location (for my side of the street!) so I should have gone to a location several miles away…it was close to poll closing time and when I found out the location (very close to the street with all the gang activity in Glassell Park) they let me fill out a provisional ballot where I was. When I found out my poll location was the distant one again, I voted absentee. After reading about all the long lines, I’m very happy that I did.

  3. I requested to vote by mail, because lavote.com & the woman on the phone hadn’t gotten my updated voter registration info (I changed addresses and re-registered months ago.)

    My mail ballot never came, so I went to vote this morning. I was the second provisional ballot cast at my polling place, but as I left there was a crowd of people who had the same issue.

  4. There was an old guy in front of me today who had to do a provisional vote. He had problems as the address he was giving was new (had his city water bill to show he lived there) and only told the registrar a couple of weeks ago about the change. I think the sheer volume of voters overwhelmed the registrar and that is why we have so many provisional ballots.

    G’night all see you in the morning.

  5. I spent much of the day volunteering at the Election Protection hotline (866-Our-Vote), and I can say that this was a problem county-wide. A lot of the voters who weren’t on the rolls registered recently, but quite a few had been registered for years and had somehow disappeared from the lists.

  6. I worked my precinct today and there were a shit-ton of provisional ballots. The last two elections, I had registered well in advance (twice) and still was stuck with the provisional ballots. However, they are still counted along with the rest once they verify you’re registered.

  7. Folks,

    I run a polling place on election day. A couple things that I want people to understand 100%:

    1. Provisional ballots are ALWAYS counted in LA County. The county has 28 days to count all ballots and officially certify the election results. If you voted provisionally, you should have received a pink piece of paper with a phone number on the bottom. If you call this number in a few weeks and give them your name, they will tell you whether your vote counted.

    2. Provisional ballots are an indisputable good thing. There will always be a certain amount of human error in the voting process – typos in registrations, absentee ballots not getting mailed, voters moving, voters not going to the right polling place. Before we had provisional ballots, all these people were simply turned away at the polls and were disenfranchised. Now we have a process in which their vote will be counted. It would be nice if nobody had to vote provisionally, but that will never happen. At my polling place, about 15% of voters voted provisionally. You should consider this good for democracy.

  8. Thank you Oren–both for clarifying the purpose and status of provisional ballots and for your service in running a polling place.

    Perhaps you can do some guest blogging for us at the next election…

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