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Frequently Asked Questions About Provisional Voting

What is a provisional ballot?

A provisional ballot is used to record a vote if a voter's eligibility is in question and the voter would otherwise not be permitted to vote at his or her polling place. The content of a provisional ballot is no different from a regular ballot, but it is cast "provisionally" until election officials can verify the voter's eligibility to vote in the particular precinct at that election.

There are several scenarios in which a voter may cast a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot may be used on Election Day if a voter's eligibility is in question, or before (or on) Election Day if a voter has recently changed his or her address or name and did not update his or her voter registration.

Where would I cast a provisional ballot?

Before Election Day: If you have changed your name or moved from one Ohio precinct to another and did not update your voter registration prior to the deadline for submitting your change of address (30 days before the election), then you may cast a provisional ballot in person at the office of the board of elections, or a place designated by the board of elections for that purpose, beginning the 28th day before the election.

On Election Day: In the precinct at the designated polling placed based upon your current residential address, or, if you have changed your name or moved from one Ohio precinct to another and did not update your voter registration prior to the deadline for submitting your change of address (30 days before the election) then you may cast your provisional ballot in person at the office of the board of elections, or a place designated by the board of elections for that purpose.

What scenarios would require me to cast a provisional ballot?

Any of the following scenarios would require you to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day:

  • Your name does not appear on the official poll list for that precinct, or an election official asserts that you are not eligible to vote or is unable to determine your eligibility;
  • You are unable or decline to provide the required proof of identity, which includes a current and valid photo identification, military identification, or a copy of a current (within the last 12 months) utility bill (including cell phone bill), bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and current address. (Note: You cannot use as proof of identification a voter registration acknowledgement notice that the board of elections mailed to you.);
  • Your name appears on the official poll list for that precinct as having already requested an absentee ballot;
  • Your name is marked on the poll list or signature book with a notation that certain registration mailings have been returned as undeliverable;
  • A hearing on a challenge to your eligibility as an elector has been postponed until after Election Day;
  • Your signature, in the opinion of the precinct officers, does not match the signature on your registration form; or
  • Your eligibility to cast a ballot has been challenged by the precinct officials.

After I cast a provisional ballot, do I have to do anything to make sure my vote is counted?

Before your provisional ballot can be included in the official count of an election, the board of elections must confirm your eligibility to cast the ballot, as well as the validity of the ballot that you cast.

If you cast your provisional ballot and provided acceptable proof of identity, you typically do not need to provide any additional information to the board of elections.

If you cast a provisional ballot and did not provide acceptable proof of identity at the time of voting, you must appear in person at the board of elections to provide such proof within the 10 days immediately following Election Day, in accordance with Ohio law. The following guidelines apply:

  1. If you cast a provisional ballot because you had, but could not provide to election officials at the time you voted, acceptable proof of your identity or the last four digits of your Social Security number, you must provide to the board of elections one of the following:
    • Acceptable proof of your identity in the form of a current and valid photo identification;
    • A military identification;
    • A copy of a current (within the last 12 months) utility bill (including cell phone bill), bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document (but not a voter registration acknowledgement notification mailed by a board of elections) that shows your name and current address (including from a public college or university); or
    • The last four digits of your Social Security number.
  2. If you cast a provisional ballot because, at the time you voted, you had, but declined to provide, an acceptable form of identification or the last four digits of your Social Security number, and you declined to execute the written affirmation statement swearing to your identity under penalty of election falsification, you must provide to the board of elections one of the following:
    • Acceptable proof of your identity in the form of a current and valid photo identification;
    • A military identification;
    • A copy of a current (within the last 12 months) utility bill (including cell phone bill), bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document (but not a voter registration acknowledgement notification mailed by a board of elections) that shows your name and current address (including from a public college or university); or
    • The last four digits of your Social Security number.
  3. If you cast a provisional ballot because, at the time you voted, you did not have any acceptable form of identification or a Social Security number, and you declined to execute the written affirmation statement swearing to your identity under penalty of election falsification, you must provide to the board of elections one of the following:
    • Acceptable proof of your identity in the form of current and valid photo identification;
    • A military identification;
    • A copy of a current (within the last 12 months) utility bill (including cell phone bill), bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document (but not a voter registration acknowledgement notification mailed by a board of elections) that shows your name and current address (including from a public college or university);
    • The last four digits of your Social Security number; or
    • A signed affirmation statement (provided by the board of elections) stating that you do not have any of the above items.
  4. If you cast a provisional ballot because your right to vote was challenged at the polling place under R.C. 3505.20, and the election officials either determined that you were ineligible to vote or were unable to determine your eligibility, you must provide any identification or other documentation required to resolve the challenge.
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