Provisional Voting

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 and did not update his or her voter registration.

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Where would I cast a provisional ballot?

Before Election Day: If you have 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: At the designated polling place based upon your current residential address, or, if you have 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.

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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 to provide or do not have the required proof of identity, which includes an Ohio driver’s license or state identification card, military identification, other current and valid photo identification, or a current (within the last 12 months) utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document (other than a notice of voter registration mailed by a board of elections) that shows the voter’s name and current address;
  • 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;
  • Your voter registration has been challenged and/or a hearing on a challenge to your eligibility as an elector has been postponed until after Election Day; or
  • Your signature, in the opinion of the precinct officers, does not match the signature on your registration form.

Name changes: If you have changed your name but have not yet updated your voter registration, you may vote a regular ballot rather than a provisional ballot as long as you have not moved to a new address outside of your voting precinct. You must provide elections officials proof of a legal name change such as a marriage license or a court order that includes your current and prior names. At your polling location or designated vote center, you will simply be asked to complete a change of name form (Secretary of State prescribed 10-L).

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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.

Proof of identity: 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 seven days immediately following Election Day, in accordance with Ohio law. Acceptable forms of identification to validate your provisional ballot are:

  • An Ohio driver’s license or state identification card number (begins with two letters followed by six numbers);
  • The last four digits of the voter’s Social Security number; or
  • A copy of a current and valid photo identification, a military identification, or a current (within the last 12 months) utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document (other than a notice of voter registration mailed by a board of elections) that shows the voter’s name and current address.

Proof of name change: If you cast a provisional ballot because, at the time you voted, you changed your name but did not provide proof of a legal name change to a precinct election official, you must provide that proof in the form of a marriage license or a court order that indicates your current and prior names.

Voter eligibility challenged: 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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