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Provisional ballots: What are they? And why will some need them?

Posted at 9:48 PM, Oct 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-28 22:34:38-04

COLLIER COUNTY, FLA — Picture this scenario: You've finally made to the polls. You have your mask handy and you're ready to vote, but when you get to the front of the line, you realize you've forgotten your ID.

What should you do?

The Supervisor of Elections in Collier County, Jennifer Edwards, says you can still vote.

"We say 'We don't turn anybody away,'" she said, "If they don't have an id they can vote, if we don't find them on the voter registration roll, we will allow them to vote. If they argue with us and say, 'Well I know I voted in the last election, so I can vote." we let them vote a provisional ballot."

But what are provisional ballots?

"They get the regular ballot but instead of walking over to the scanner and to scan and tabulate it, they are asked to place it in an envelope and that envelope is sealed and on the back of that envelope is an oath and information about the voter," said Edwards.

That's right, you'll be asked to provide certain identifying information about yourself with that ballot.

"That includes things like their birthday and other personal information so we can search for them in our voter roll," she said.

Edwards adds that it's also extremely important to note that just because you fill out the provisional ballot, doesn't mean your vote automatically counts.

So what does happen to those ballots?

"Our chief deputy she begins researching those envelopes, the information on the back of the envelopes to determine if it goes in the eligible stack or the ineligible stack," said Edwards.

We also wanted to know what happens to your provisional ballot if it gets rejected.

Well, Edwards says you'll be notified and you'll then have until the Thursday after election day to prove you're an eligible voter.

You can do that by signing a special affidavit and providing an up to date ID, updated signature or by showing your voter registration card to elections officials.

If you're experiencing trouble at the polls, you can also reach out to the national "Election Protection" hotline, which will put you in touch with a lawyer to help you understand your rights.

Their number is 866-687-8683

Key Dates and Deadlines in Florida

Tues, Nov. 3: In-Person Voting
Fri, Nov. 13: Absentee/Mail-In Delivered By Date